A sudden eruption of the Tungurahua volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes sent a column of ash more than seven km into the sky, authorities said.
The eruption occurred at 10:35 pm on Monday and the incandescent material "shot into the air and then descended onto the slopes of the volcano", the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School said.
It said that the powerful eruption was followed by smaller ones and that reports have come in of ash and pebbles falling on Choglontus and other villages west of the volcano.
The eruption was soundless and was perceived as an earthquake.
"The column of ash from the first eruption was vertical and flashes of light could be seen inside it. For several weeks there have been the seismic phenomena of rocks breaking up and the movement of fluids that have not been very powerful but showed internal activity," the institute said.
Tungurahua, 5,019 meters high, began erupting in 1999 and since then has alternated periods of great activity with spaces of relative calm.