3 dead, 3 missing after avalanche on Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador

At least three people are dead and three others are missing after an avalanche on the dormant volcano Chimborazo, Ecuador. The avalanche struck a group of 16 climbers at an altitude of 6,100 meters.

“There are three missing climbers, three dead, three injured and seven rescued, out of a total of 16 people,” Quito firefighters said in a statement.

Firefighters added that the avalanche was caused by weather conditions, not volcanic activity.

Rescuers, as well as police and military personnel specializing in high altitude operations, have set up a command center in Chimborazo to coordinate search and rescue operations.

The last known eruption of this volcano occurred in 550 AD.

Chimborazo is the highest volcano in Ecuador. This glacier-covered volcano is located at the southern end of Volcanoes Avenue, 30 km northwest of the city of Riobamba.

The volcano collapsed about 35,000 years ago, forming a large avalanche of debris, whose deposits lay beneath Riobamba and temporarily dammed the Rio Chambo, forming an ephemeral lake.

Subsequent eruptions were predominantly andesitic and built three structures along an east-west line, the youngest and westernmost of which forms the present summit of Chimborazo.

Although the volcano was once thought to have ceased activity in the very late Pleistocene, recent work shows that it erupted more than half a dozen times during the Holocene, creating pyroclastic flows that reached heights of 3,800 m (12,500 ft).

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