Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted on Saturday, spewing ash and lava nearly a mile into the sky.

Residents evacuated the area after "red alert" was issued by country's National Agency of Risk Control. The warning was later downgraded to orange, as the volcano became less active.

Activity at Tungurahua (which means "throat of fire" in the native Quechua language) peaked Saturday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to the Geological Institute in Quito.

At one point, the ash cloud reached nearly 3 km (1.9 miles) above the volcano's crater, according to the institute, and lava flowed about 2 km from the crater.

The glacier-capped, 16,478-foot (5,023-meter) volcano has erupted periodically since 1999, when increased activity led to the temporary evacuation of the city of Banos at the foot of the volcano. Major eruptions also occurred in August 2006 and February 2008, according to the government's emergency management agency.

The volcano is 140 km south of Quito, Ecuador's capital.


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