PICTURES

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spews ash amid explosions

A boy stands on a platform built next to a treehouse as the Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A boy stands on a platform built next to a treehouse as the Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A cloud of ash and vapor spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Riobamba, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A cloud of ash and vapor spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Riobamba, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
The Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. The Tungurahua volcano, which has been in an eruption process since 1999, erupted on Saturday, sending ash and pyroclastic material into the atmosphere. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. The Tungurahua volcano, which has been in an eruption process since 1999, erupted on Saturday, sending ash and pyroclastic material into the atmosphere. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Lava spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Pelileo, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Lava spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Pelileo, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A cloud of ash and vapor spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Pelileo, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. A series of explosions rocked Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano, spewing columns of ash into the air that reached as far as Quito
A cloud of ash and vapor spewed by the Tungurahua volcano can be seen from the city of Pelileo, Ecuador, on Feb 1, 2014. A series of explosions rocked Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano, spewing columns of ash into the air that reached as far as Quito. -- PHOTO: AFP 

QUITO (AFP) - A series of explosions rocked Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano, spewing columns of ash into the air that reached as far as Quito.

Ash fall from the plumes was reported up to 130km north in the Ecuadoran capital, authorities said.

"There were five explosions of a moderate to large size, which sounded like heavy gunfire for several miles," director of the Geophysical Institute Mario Ruiz told the Gama TV channel.

Tungurahua, which in the Quechua language means "throat of fire", has been erupting since 1999.

Located in central Tungurahua province, it came rumbling to life again on Saturday, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people from nearby villages.

Wind currents were carrying the ash in a northerly direction on Monday, but on Sunday ash fell as far south as the province of Loja, which borders Peru.

"Most volcanic ash is suspended in the atmosphere south of Quito," the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology said on Twitter Monday, as the country's Emergency Operations Committee met.

Ash fall was reported in multiple Tungurahua towns, security service ECU-911 said on its Twitter account, adding that seismic activity was "high". Authorities have not reported any casualties or damage.

Authorities declared an emergency in high-risk areas in Tungurahua and Chimborazo provinces after Saturday's "significant activity". Multiple villages are located in the vicinity of the volcano, which stands at 5,029m.

The volcano took its greatest toll in 2006, when a Chimborazo village was destroyed by lava, killing six people.