Huge volcano in middle of ocean erupts for first time this year spewing ash

A volcano in the middle of the Indian Ocean has erupted for the first time this year spewing ash and lava into its surroundings. Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion island blew at 5.30am GMT on Sunday, according to the Piton de la Fournaise Volcanological Observatory (OVPF).

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Volcanologists from the OVPF said “eruptive” fissures opened up on the eastern flank of the volcano in “a totally uninhabited area, with no particular threat to the safety of people, property or the environment”, according to AFP.

The last eruption at Piton de la Fournaise was on September 19 last year and lasted for 16 days.

OVPF wrote on Twitter: “This seismic crisis is accompanied by rapid deformation. This indicates the magma is leaving the magma reservoir and spreading to the surface.”

Officials on the island have triggered a level 2-1 alert.

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Piton de la Fournaise, recognised as one of the most active volcanoes in the world, has erupted about 20 times in the past 10 years.

Eruptions of the Réunion volcano are described as effusive or Hawaiian-type eruptions which means most of the lava flows over the surface of the volcano, unlike explosive eruptions which shoot clouds of ash skywards.

Officials have banned access to the site of the volcano, but a road in the area remains open to traffic as long as motorists avoid “untimely stops”.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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