A volcano erupted in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on early Monday morning, experts said, sending an ash cloud kilometers (miles) up into the air. It is the first eruption at the volcano since 1861.
The chief forecaster at the VAAC in Toulouse said the eruption at the Dubbi volcano began at around midnight local time (2100 GMT Sunday), sending a large plume up to 13 kilometers (8 miles) high. Few details about the eruption in the remote region were immediately available.
The eruption was preceded by a series of more than a dozen light to moderate earthquakes at the volcanic complex, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It said the two strongest earthquakes had both a magnitude of 5.7 on the Richter scale.
A seismologist at the USGS earlier said he did not know if the earthquakes were related to the volcano since both originate from the same continental rift zone. “This thing also tends to generate volcanic activity, given the fact that since you are opening the Earth’s crust, a lot of the magma that is underneath the Earth’s crust does actually have access to the surface,” the seismologist said earlier. “That process itself, the volcanism and the earthquakes, are related to the same rift zone.”
The Dubbi volcano, which has a peak elevation of 1,625 meters (5,331 feet), is the country’s only historically active volcano. It last erupted in 1861, destroying local villages and killing more than 100 people.
Series of moderate earthquakes hit Eritrea – Ethiopia border region
ASMARA, ERITREA (BNO NEWS) — A series of moderate earthquakes struck the Eritrea – Ethiopia border region on Sunday evening, seismologists said, but it was not immediately known if there was damage or if there were casualties.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported a total of 14 light to moderate earthquakes in the border area on Sunday evening, with the strongest being two 5.7-magnitude earthquakes which were both centered in Eritrea.
The series of earthquakes began at 6.37 p.m. local time (1537 GMT) when a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck about 128 kilometers (79 miles) west-northwest of Assab, a port city in the Southern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake.
The moderate earthquake was followed by seven light earthquakes between magnitudes 4.5 and 4.8 on the Richter scale during the next 2.5 hours. Those were then followed by three earthquakes with magnitudes of 4.7, 4.8, and 5.0.
Soon after, at 11.32 p.m. local time (2032 GMT), a moderate 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck about 123 kilometers (76 miles) west-northwest of Assab at a depth of 10.1 kilometers (6.3 miles). It was quickly followed by another 5.7-magnitude earthquake, as well as a 4.5-magnitude earthquake.
There were no immediate reports from the region, but the USGS said there was a possibility of damage and casualties as a result of the earthquakes. It estimated that some 18,000 people may have felt moderate to strong shaking as a result of the 5.7-magnitude earthquakes, while 3.6 million others were estimated to have perceived light shaking.
Earthquakes in Africa are rare, especially moderate earthquakes, but similar events have happened before in the region. On July 20, 1884, a strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck offshore Massawa, Eritrea. Scores of homes in the region were destroyed but there were no confirmed reports of fatalities.