The volcanic islands of the Azores, hit by thousands of earthquakes, begin to evacuate as fear grows.

Lisbon — Authorities on the Portuguese island of the Central Atlantic coast, which has recently been hit by thousands of small earthquakes, began evacuating people living at the bottom of coastal cliffs on Thursday as fears of stronger tremors and volcanic eruptions increased. I did.

According to the CIVISA Earthquake and Volcano Monitoring Center in the region, more than 2,000 earthquakes of magnitude 1.6-3.3 have been recorded on the island of Sao Jorge in the Azores since Saturday.

A small, previously undamaged earthquake was reported along the fissure eruption of Manadas volcano on the island, which last erupted in 1808. A major earthquake struck the island in 1980, causing serious damage.

CIVISA has raised the volcano warning to 4 out of 5 levels. This means “there is a possibility of an actual eruption,” and states that the number of earthquakes is above normal levels.

People in hospitals and long-term care facilities in the city of Velas, which are considered to be the most affected, have already been transferred to Kalyeta on the other side of the island.

Mayor of Velas, Luis Silveira, said Wednesday that plans to evacuate the rest of the population to Calleta or other islands would only be triggered when necessary.

A municipal spokesman told Reuters that people living on the island’s so-called “Faja” would be proactively evacuated from small plains originally created by lava and landslides at the bottom of cliffs. There are about 40 “Fajas” in Saint Georges.

Evacuation will take place after the Azores have launched an emergency plan.

São Jorge, one of the nine islands that make up the Azores, is home to approximately 8,400 people and is part of the central group of archipelago, including the popular tourist destinations of Faial and Pico, which are also volcanoes. am.

President Jose Manuel Boliero of the Azores visited São Jorge on Thursday morning, saying “everything was prepared” to evacuate people, and the government is also working to increase the number of commercial flights. Added.

Authorities told residents where to go when needed, and said alerts would be sent to residents by using social media, local radio stations, and ringing the island’s church bells.

Catalina Demony