Ecuador has 55 active volcanoes in the northern half of the Ecuadorian Andes. There, consequences of active volcanism include ashfalls, pyroclastic flows (fast moving fluidized material of hot gas, ash, and rock), and lahars (mudflows), which result in serious damage locally and regionally and thus are of major concern to Ecuadorians.
In particular, Tungurahua (elevation, 5023 meters) and Cotopaxi (elevation, 5876 meters) are high-risk volcanoes. Since 1999, eruption activity at Tungurahua has continued and has produced ashfalls and lahars that damage towns and villages on the flanks of the volcano. More than 20,000 people live on these flanks.