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Reunion's massive volcano eruption simmers down

Tourists and residents have been able to take in the sights of the smouldering lava and magma being tossed as high as skyscrapers.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2007 14:21 IST

Ten days after violently awakening, a volcano on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion continued spewing lava in what experts called "the eruption of the century."

But the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on eastern Reunion, a French overseas department, had lulled considerably, and residents remained out of danger.

Tourists and residents have been able to take in the sights of the smouldering lava and magma being tossed as high as skyscrapers.

"We can call it the eruption of the century," Zacharie Duputel, a seismologist at the Volcano Observatory for the island said yesterday. "We have never observed such a phenomenon."

The eruption resulted in the collapse of the volcano's summit, with magma at times being spewed as high as 200 metres (656 feet) into the air.

The lava had cut off a national highway as it spurted toward the sea at 60 kilometres per hour, creating clouds of gas as it made contact with water. Sulphur dioxyde levels in the gas have not been measured at dangerous levels.

Lava flow had been estimated at three million cubic metres (four million cubic yards) per day.

Yesterday, lava leapt only 10 metres (33 feet) into the air, according to the observatory. There was less activity within the crater, though entire sections of rock continued to collapse.

Some people with memories of damage caused by previous eruptions were not enjoying the show.