Volcano threat on Spanish island

2011-09-28 18:13
Valverde - Police evacuated 53 residents and tourists from houses at the foot of a volcano on Spain's Canary Islands after a recent series of earthquakes, authorities and witnesses said on Wednesday.

The evacuation on the island of El Hierro aimed to prevent inhabitants being hit by volcanic rock that might be hurled out of the volcano, a municipal official who asked not to be named told AFP.

The official added however that authorities did not expect a full-scale "imminent eruption".

"We were having some wine yesterday evening when the Civil Guard told us to leave the house because we were too close to the mountain," German holidaymaker Tuengen Maier, 62, told AFP by telephone.

"We are just going to pick up our luggage this morning. This is too dangerous. We cannot stay," added Maier, who spent a night in a student residence and aimed to spend the rest of his holiday on nearby Tenerife.

The tremors started in July and have been growing in intensity, raising fears among residents that the volcano was about to erupt.

The Spanish National Geographic Institute has recorded 8 000 tremors since July 19, most of them too small to be felt, but one recorded overnight on Wednesday reached 3.4 magnitude.

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