Friday, October 07, 2005

People told to flee volcanic activity

Authorities in north-eastern Ethiopia have advised 50 000 people to evacuate from a remote region following a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, an official said on Wednesday.The evacuation advice was given in the Afar region after a September 24 earthquake triggered an eruption of the previously dormant Mount Arteala.

Another quake measuring 4,2 on the Richter scale struck on Tuesday, leading to another eruption, said Manahlo Belachew, from the seismology department of Addis Ababa University.A thick layer of ash that has spewed from the volcano has covered grazing grounds, preventing nomadic cattle herders from feeding their livestock. Several hundred cattle have already died in the region, which borders Eritrea and Djibouti."We were also told that earthquakes have so far damaged roads in the region's Teru and Dubti districts, making transportation difficult in a region largely inhabited by salt-mining Afar pastoralists," Belachew said.

Afar authorities have advised the 50 000 people living in the stricken area to travel 400km south of the region to save their lives and cattle, Belachew said.Officials have had trouble getting information from the region because of its remote location. Belachew said earthquakes are also expected to hit other Ethiopian towns on the Great Rift Valley -- a geologic depression that runs from the Jordan River valley in south-west Asia to Mozambique in East Africa. The Rift Valley was formed by the movement of tectonic plates and is highly susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

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