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Volcano erupts on Galapagos Islands

January 7, 2022

The tallest mountain on the Galapagos Islands has erupted, spewing ash clouds over the Pacific Ocean. Ecuador's Geophysical Institute said the eruption was ongoing.

Wolf Volcano in the midst of an eruption on the Galapagos Islands
Lava from the eruption on Isabela Island on the Galapagos Islands spewed into the sky Image: Wilson Cabrera/National Galapagos Park communications office/AP/picture alliance

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute said Friday the tallest mountain on the Galapagos Islands was erupting and spewing lava and ash over the Pacific Ocean.

Shortly before midnight Wednesday local time, the Wolf Volcano sent a cloud of ashen lava 3,793 meters (12,444 feet) into the sky, the Ecuadorian institute said.

Government images showed a piercing ray of light emerging from the mountain streaking into the sky.

The institute said it had observed "thermal anomalies and gas and ash clouds" constituting the eruption. The Galapagos National Park posted pictures of the eruption from the earliest moments. 

What risk does the eruption pose?

Ecuadorian officials said there was no immediate danger to residential areas on the other side of Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos.

Eight people were evacuated from the area as a precaution; all were national park guards and scientists engaged in fieldwork focused on pink iguanas residing on the volcano's slopes.

As of last August, only 211 pink iguanas remain on Isabela Island. The condition of the pink iguanas and other unique wildlife was not immediately known.

Yellow iguanas and the Galapagos giant tortoises also live in the area.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador. A UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the animals and plant species on the Galapagos can only be found there.

Wolf Volcano is one of several volcanoes active in the Galapagos. It is 1,701 meters tall (5,580 feet) when not in a state of active eruption.

The volcano erupted last in 2015 following 33 years of inactivity.

Isabela Island is also home to four other active volcanoes.

ar/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)