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Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano spews ash south of Quito

A volcano has spewed ash over a wide area in two pre-dawn blasts near Ecuador's capital.

Government scientists say the 19,600ft snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano does not seem to be on the verge of a major eruption.

Authorities still suspended ascents of Cotopaxi, which is popular with mountaineers.

Patricio Ramon of Ecuador's geophysics institute told Teleamazonas TV that the explosions were small phreatic eruptions, which occur when molten rock, or magma, meets water.

The volcano is 30 miles from Quito. It began showing renewed activity in April, while its last major eruption was in 1877.

Cotopaxi is considered one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes due to a glacial cover that makes it prone to mud flows and its proximity to a heavily populated area.

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