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Ecuador: Volcanic Eruption Final Report DREF Operation n° MDREC016

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Description of the disaster

On 20 September 2020, an internal explosion of the Sangay volcano generated a large ash cloud that rose some 6 to 10 kilometres above the volcano's crater, according to the National Polytechnic School's Geophysical Institute (IGEPN). The volcano, located in the Sangay National Park bordering the provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo, is considered the most active in the country, and the ashes emitted affected five provinces (Chimborazo, Bolívar, Guayas, Los Ríos and Santa Elena). According to data from national and local authorities, the greatest impact was to agriculture and livestock in the cantons of Alausí, Chunchi, Guamote, Cumandá and Pallatanga in Chimborazo province, as well as in Chillanes in Bolívar where the community water sources were contaminated. It was reported that at least 18,685 people were affected.

Provincial-level Emergency Operations Committees (EOCs) were immediately established in Chimborazo and Bolívar provinces, receiving support from the National Risk and Emergency Management Service (SNGRE), the Ministry of the Environment and Water, as well as from key local actors that compose the Technical Working Groups (MTT) per the EOC manual. The MTT engage in protection and response measures in their localities such as restrictions to vehicles and recommendations on suspending in-person activities in the areas with significant ashfall.

At the national level, preventive measures were taken to safeguard the key public services that were affected. The ashfall affected water supply in the Chillanes canton in Bolívar province, as the area does not have a protected water treatment system. Water is directly collected and distributed via pipelines to homes for use by people and livestock and for irrigation.