53 evacuated as seismic activity continues in Spanish island (philstar.com) Updated September 28, 2011 06:11 PM
MADRID (Xinhua) -- A total of 53 people were evacuated from their homes on the Spanish island of El Hierro on Tuesday night due to seismic activity in the area.
The evacuees were sheltered in school buildings or other relatives' homes in safe areas.
In recent days, there has been increased seismic activity, raising fears of the first volcanic eruption on the island since 1793.
There have been over 8,000 tremors registered since July. Although the vast majority of them have gone unnoticed by inhabitants, they have recently increased in intensity, tremors last week measuring 3.0 and 3.4 on the Richter scale.
The threat of volcanic activity on the island was raised from green to yellow for the first time in recent history and 32 more tremors were registered on Monday, the strongest of them being 2.0 on the Richter scale.
El Hierro, part of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, is situated off the west coast of Africa and has a population of around 10,000. The recent seismic activity is thought to be caused by a ball of magma -- or molten rock -- pushing upwards beneath the earth's crust.
Instead of having one large crater, the volcano on El Hierro consists of 250 smaller craters. If an eruption did occur, lava would escape from these vents and flow towards the sea. A single explosive event, such as that experienced in Mount St Helens in 1980, is not expected by geologists.
This May, the Spanish mainland was hit by an 5.1 earthquake that took 10 lives and devastated buildings in Lorca in the south-west of the country.
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