A volcano, which last erupted in 1877, has the attention of Ecuadorean flower growers.
Employees of farms located southwest of Cotopaxi volcano were evacuated Aug. 14 as a precautionary measure due to eruptive activity. They returned the next day.
Cotopoxi, located about 30 miles southeast of Quito, “initiated an eruptive process” late last week, said Alejandro Martinez, executive president of Expoflores, the nation’s association of flower growers. The association is concerned, but emphasized that Cotopaxi’s history suggests it won’t have the same catastrophic effects as Mount Vesuvius, Mount St. Helen’s or anything depicted “in Hollywood.”
“Tungurahua Volcano, located south of Cotopaxi, has similar characteristics and has been erupting for the last nine years,” Martinez said. “There are a few farms close to Tungurahua that have operated continuously throughout the eruptive process.”
Local authorities issued an evacuation order Friday, Aug. 14, for anyone located southwest of the volcano as a precautionary measure. The evacuation was lifted Saturday afternoon, said Dean Rule, of International Rose Breeders in Quito.
For the vast majority of farms, “the only direct effect would be from ash,” Rule said. The few farms located near rivers southwest of Cotopoxi could experience mudslides as the result of melting glaciers, he added.
As of press time, the Quito airport is functionally normally and farms are going about “business as usual,” Rule said.