Earthquake rattles island in Spain’s Canaries

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 has swept the archipelago in the past two weeks, the National Geographic Institute said.

Earthquake rattles island in Spain's Canaries
Valle de El Golfo, El Hierro, Spain. File photo: Wikimedia

The epicentre of the quake was recorded at 1059 GMT in the Atlantic Ocean, around 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) west of the island, where many of its 10,000 inhabitants could feel the quake caused by an underwater volcano.

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

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

On Wednesday, local authorities 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.

El Hierro, which means "Iron" in Spanish, suffered thousands of earthquakes throughout much of 2011, prompting officials to briefly close a tunnel linking the island's two main towns — Frontera and Valverde — and evacuate dozens of people over fears of landslides.

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.

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Earthquakes in Spain: What you need to know about the tremors around Granada

A string of mild earthquakes shook southern Spain overnight following weeks of strong seismic activity in the Granada area, prompting the premier to call for calm on Wednesday.

Earthquakes in Spain: What you need to know about the tremors around Granada
Dozens of quakes have hit the zone around Granada in recent days. Source: Source: IGN

Three of them had a magnitude of between 4 and 4.5, Spain's National Geographical Institute (IGN) said on Twitter.

“Various earthquakes shook Granada again overnight which has worried thousands of people. Please stay calm and follow the instructions of the emergency services,” tweeted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.   

Many images posted online showed residents out in the street in the middle of the night, wearing pyjamas and coats, despite the coronavirus curfew.


Since December 1st, a total of 281 shallow quakes have hit the area around Granada, of which eight had a magnitude of more than 3.0, an IGN statement said on Tuesday.

Of that number, 41 were felt by the population.   

Another quake on Saturday in the same area had a magnitude of 4.4, causing cracks in walls and throwing objects to the ground, it said.   

The interactive map above shows the location and strength of each quake to hit the zone in recent days. Source: IGN

“It's a worrying situation, I understand people's fears,” Granada Mayor Luis Salvador told Spain's public television on Wednesday, calling for calm.   

“All the information we have indicates that although they are many and continuous, that is what prevents a more intense and devastating episode.”   

The IGN said such seismic activity was “common in this area”, flagging it as one of the most seismically active regions of the Iberian Peninsula which experiences “numerous surface earthquakes of low to moderate magnitude, and occasionally with significant intensity”.

The map below produced by the Spanish government shows the risk of seismic activity across Spain. 

Emergency services in Andalusia urged calm and issued guidance for what to do in an earthquake. The tips include seeking refuge beneath a heavy table if inside and if you have to leave the house, avoid running or using the elevator. In the street be careful of danger from falling electrical cables and falling masonary and if driving, park the car and stay put.

 The regional government warned people to be careful of fake news circulating, including a false message that the region had called a state of emergency in expectation of a major quake.


But in a tweet from the emergency services of Andalusia, it did advise people to be prepared and have an emergency pack ready just in case.