12-10-2011 Canary Islands/El Hierro (SB) - An underwater volcanic eruption yesterday has prompted the authorities of El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, to evacuate about 500 people from the village La Restinga to the Valverde school at the northern side of El Hierro.The eruption was detected on Monday 5km from the island at a depth of between 500 and 1 200m beneath the sea.Today the authorities are allowing the evacuated people who were not able to take their belongings with them yesterday or forgot vital things, to go to their houses accompanied by police. They are currently coming together on a certain location until PEVOLCA gives the green light.
Experts had said the eruption would not be felt on the island. But seismic activity now pointed to the risk of another eruption closer to the coast, said the director general of the Canaries' emergency commission, Juan Manuel Santana. As a result, the regional government will relocate the roughly 500 people living in La Restinga, which is the closest residential area to the eruption, he told a news conference."An eruption in shallower waters would produce a greater risk because of the greater interaction of the water with the magma," he warned. "We must continue to follow how the phenomenon develops, what we are putting in place is simply a preventative measure."
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with several ministers, including Defence Minister Carmen Chacon, and volcano experts later on Tuesday to analyse the situation, his office said.
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.
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