The Black Giant
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Tungurahua's deadly eruption.
I decided to head for Ecuador, driven by my love of mountains and an insatiable urge to travel. I got more than I bargained for when I arrived, because I discovered that the Tungurahua volcano, located around 80 miles south of the country’s capital Quito, was about to erupt and was spewing dense smoke and lava. I approached it from the west, which was said to be the good weather side, since the clouds generally roll in from the east/amazonas. The road I was on ended at Puela, a little town at the western slopes of the volcano. Night fell and the clouds dissipated and I found myself staying up all night to observe and to take pictures. I’m quite a fan of astronomy and so I realised that the star cluster M45 (pleiades) was about to appear in the night sky on this moonless night, and that it would emerge more or less behind the crater. That’s exactly what happened,I took my picture using a Canon D20 and 70-200mm combination, with an exposure time of around 20 seconds. It was a difficult shot to take, thanks to the humidity and the fact that ash was falling fairly liberally around me: my camera is now worth half its price! The next morning I started my walk along the flanks of the volcano to reach Banos: there had been a road, but much of it had been destroyed by lava flows. The villages I passed were semi-deserted and the vegetation was covered with ash: all the time what really scared me about the volcano was that it was so quiet....no explosions, and my fear was that something was building up. Time, I told myself, to get out of here! The following night the villages of Bilbao and Penipe suffered heavy damage and those of Chilibu, Chogloctuz and Palitagua got wiped out.
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