A volcano in Ecuador that has not erupted in nearly 140 years belched a column of ash 5 km (3 miles) high on Friday, prompting officials to raise the alert level.


The ash was preceded overnight by two small explosions from the crater, the Geophysics Institute said on Twitter.

The Cotopaxi volcano stands 5,897 meters (19,500 feet) high and is located 45 km (30 miles) south of the capital Quito.

In Quito, preparations began for a million surgical masks to be handed out.

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