People are having to contend with a thick layer of ash that has fallen on their farms and houses after Ecuador's massive Cotopaxi volcano's latest eruption.

The volcano spewed ash and smoke up to 1.24 miles over its crater on 21 August, local authorities. Residents wearing masks to help them breath walked through the grey cloud that enveloped everything in the town of Mulalo.

"This is the most dangerous zone because we are at the feet of Cotopaxi," said local resident Alfredo Puco. "As of yesterday, all day and last night ash was continually falling and it hasn't stopped."

For almost three hours from midday to 3pm, the Andean country's highest active volcano continuously emitted smoke and ash that covered nearby towns with a thick coat of soot. Livestock were feeding on the soot and their caretakers were worried they will die if it doesn't rain soon. "You have to go outside and all the animals will die," said herder Romero Sarzosa as he looked after his ash-covered sheep.

Authorities have not ordered mandatory evacuations but have declared a state of emergency and are monitoring the situation closely. The last eruption took place in 1940, according to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.