Four dead leaves avalanche on the snow-capped Chimborazo volcano, the highest in Ecuador

An avalanche that occurred on Sunday in the snow-capped Chimborazo volcano, in central Andean and the highest in Ecuador, fell on a group of mountaineers, leaving at least four dead and one injured, reported the Integrated Security Service ECU911.

"The presence of four deceased people (and) one wound is confirmed"said the agency, according to which the avalanche – which is not related to volcanic activity – would have affected a dozen people. The nationalities of the victims were not detailed.

"While they were climbing the snowy Chimborazo an avalanche fell on a group of people who were at a height of 6,100 meters above sea level."ECU911 noted in a statement.

Added that "preliminary it is known that a group of 12 people were affected" in the snowy.

El Chimborazo, a potentially active volcano with perpetual snow and located 130 km south of Quito, is 6,263 meters high. It is the highest in Ecuador and one of the main in the world.

At its feet are the towns of Riobamba and Ambato (capitals of the Chimborazo and Tungurahua provinces).

The massif, in which skiing is not practiced, attracts national and foreign climbers.

Police and military specialized in high mountain operations, as well as rescuers, traveled to Chimborazo, where the authorities installed a unified command post to coordinate rescue actions.

Other accidents

The Ministry of the Environment ordered the temporary closure of the Chimborazo nature reserve, which is visited permanently by tourists.

In 2003, the remains of an Ecuadorian-flag plane were found on the slopes of the volcano, which in 1976 crashed with 59 people on board.

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The device crashed into a great stone wall of the Chimborazo and an avalanche of snow hid it until it was found by climbers about 700 meters from the summit.

The disaster area was declared a cemetery.

In 2015, the remains of three climbers, possibly foreigners, who would have disappeared 20 or 30 years ago, were also found at about 5,600 meters above the snow-capped mountain.

An avalanche in Chimborazo also left ten dead in 1994, including six French and one Swiss.

The volcano is also the highest in the northern part of the Andes mountain range and is made up of three successive buildings, according to the Geophysical Institute of Quito.

The most recent eruption occurred between the beginning of the 5th century and the end of the 7th century, he added.

"The average interval between eruptions is 1,000 years and therefore Chimborazo is considered a potentially active volcano."the Geophysicist noted.

He indicated that the presence of the ice cap on the summit, the steep slope of its flanks and its position so close to populated areas such as Riobamba and Ambato, are factors that result in a high potential risk.

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