Eight missing after volcano erupts

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Eight people are missing following a volcanic eruption on a tiny Yemeni island in the Red Sea.

They were from a military base on Jabal al-Tair, an oval rocky outcrop about two miles wide.

A nearby Nato fleet reported seeing a "catastrophic volcanic eruption" yesterday on the island which is 70 miles off the Yemeni coast.

A spokesman said: "At this time, the entire island is aglow with lava and magma as it pours down into the sea.

"The lava is spewing hundreds of feet into the air, with the volcanic ash also (rising) a thousand feet in the air."

The Nato fleet was sailing toward the Suez Canal when it spotted the eruption. The government of Yemen asked it to help in the search for survivors and the closest ship, the HMCS Toronto, was heading toward the island.

Jabal al-Tair - meaning "Bird Mountain" - is one of a number of volcanos at the southern end of the Red Sea in the narrows between Yemen and Sudan. The island last saw an explosive eruption in 1883, according to the Washington-based Smithsonian Institute's Global Volcanism Program.

Over the past two weeks, the area around the island had seen light earthquakes between magnitude 2-3.6 on the Richter scale, with three larger ones yesterday reaching magnitude 4.3.