Lingering fears of another volcano eruption in Canaries

12th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Some 500 people evacuated on Spain's El Hierro island in the Canaries due to an underwater volcanic eruption were expected to spend another night outside their homes Wednesday amid fears of another eruption.

Local authorities on Tuesday announced that 500 residents and tourists were being evacuated from the village of La Restinga because of the risk of another eruption closer to the coast after Monday's 4.3-magnitude quake.

Monday's eruption, the first in 40 years, was detected five kilometres (three miles) from the island at a depth of between 500 and 1,200 metres (1,640 and 3,940 feet) beneath the sea.

Experts had said the eruption would not be felt on the island.

Most of the evacuees have found refuge with relatives or friends in other villages on the island. But dozens of others, mostly tourists, spent the night in a student dormitory and a local gym.

Pointing to "uncertainty over the coming days," authorities said in a statement that they were keeping Restinga on "red alert", while the rest of the island remained on yellow alert, one notch lower.

"It is recommended to exercise caution," said Paulino Rivero, head of the Canaries administration.

But he said people would be able to return to their homes under the protection of civil safety officials to retrieve medicines or clothes.

Rivero said scientists had noticed no significant changes since Tuesday afternoon.

El Hierro, which means iron in Spanish, is the smallest of Spain's Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco. It is home to some 11,000 people.

The last volcanic eruption on the Canary Islands was on nearby La Palma in 1971.

© 2011 AFP

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