Ecuador Declares State of Emergency Over Volcano

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People wear surgical masks to protect themselves from volcanic ash in Machachi, Ecuador, Aug. 14, after the Cotopaxi volcano stirred in the early hours of Friday. GUILLERMO GRANJA / Reuters

The move allows the president to immediately mobilize security forces throughout the country and lets the government block publication of information related to Cotopaxi.

The state of emergency may not exceed 60 days.

Correa said that about 400 people have been voluntarily relocated to shelters after the explosions and expulsion of ash surprised nearby residents on Friday.

The Environment Ministry closed the Cotopaxi National Park as a precaution. Cotopaxi is one of the world’s highest active volcanoes and is popular with tourists.

The last eruption took place in 1940, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.