Quake rattles volcanic island

2013-03-31 16:45

Madrid - The National Geographic Institute said a 4.9 magnitude earthquake on Sunday shook the island of El Hierro, the smallest and westernmost of Spain's Canaries, the most powerful in a wave of seismic activity that had swept the archipelago in the past two weeks.

The epicentre of the quake was recorded at 10:59GMT in the Atlantic Ocean, about 10km west of the island, where many of its 10 000 inhabitants could feel the quake caused by an underwater volcano.

It measured 20km in depth, the institute said and was the strongest of the roughly 100 quakes that have been recorded on the mountainous island since 18 March.

A smaller 4.5 magnitude earthquake was recorded earlier on Sunday in the same zone, and last week two 4.6 magnitude quakes were registered.

Local authorities on Wednesday imposed a number of measures to protect the island's western inhabitants in the light of the increased seismic activities, raising alert levels to the second-highest on a three-scale chart and prompting the closing of some stretches of road.

In October 2011 an underwater volcano erupted off the coast of El Hierro, two days after an earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale rocked the island.

The Canary Islands are located off the northwestern coast of Africa.

The last major volcanic eruption off the Canary Islands happened off Teneguia, Las Palmas, in 1971.