QUITO, Ecuador, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Ecuador's "Throat of Fire" volcano erupted Saturday, sending nearby villagers scrambling to safety, officials said.
Several villages near the 16,456-foot-high Tungurahua volcano in central Ecuador were evacuated, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.
"This is a significant eruption, with pyroclastic flows that are coming down the ravines," a geologist with the National Polytechnic School's Geophysics Institute told the newspaper. Pyroclastic flows of hot gas and rock were making their way down several ravines of the mountain, located about 112 miles south of Quito, he said.
Tungurahua, one of several active volcanoes in the South American country, has been spouting off and on since 1999.
CNN reported the volcano was sending ash and lava spewing nearly a mile into the sky, prompting the country's National Agency of Risk Control to initially put out a "red alert," a warning that was later lowered to the orange level.