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Volcano erupts on Reunion island

SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA-REUNION, France, Jan 9 (AFP) – One of the world’s most active volcanoes, located on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, erupted early Friday, regional officials said.

The intensity of the activity at Piton de la Fournaise, the island’s only active volcano, rising 2,631 meters (8,600 feet) above sea level, was not immediately known.

“Underground seismic activity had not stopped since the last eruption in December 2003,” Philippe Catherine, an expert at the island’s volcano observatory, told AFP, adding that activity had been building for several days.

Local officials cut off public access to the volcano and banned the landing of helicopters at the site.

Piton de la Fournaise last began spewing lava on December 7, an eruption that lasted until Christmas.

The mountain is said to have erupted at least 174 times since 1640.

An eruption in 1977 sent lava through the village of Sainte Rose, on the south of the island. Several houses and a petrol station were engulfed and the lava encircled the tiny church, which was renamed Our Lady of Lava.

Eruptions in 1986 and 2001 sent lava tumbling across the road that goes up the eastern coast of Reunion, the RN2, forcing the authorities to close it.


                                Subject: France news