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Since it awoke in August from a 138-year slumber, Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano has become one of the most-watched in the world, holding wary locals and fascinated scientists in thrall.During the August eruption, authorities evacuated hundreds of people and closed tens of thousands of hectares of the national park that surrounds the 5,897-meter volcano.Residents who live near the volcano have grown used to living in a state of "yellow alert," the second scale on Ecuador's four-level warning system.The three states considered to be at risk – Cotopaxi, Napo and Pichincha – periodically organize eruption drills.A monitoring room receives real-time data from 60 stations installed around Cotopaxi, which is analyzed 24 hours a day by 80 experts.Ruiz, a 30-year veteran of the Institute, said there was little time for a breather even though Cotopaxi's risk level was recently downgraded from moderate to low.
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