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21 December 2011

Volcano Eruption in Yemen on Tuesday, 20 December, 2011 at 11:38 (11:38 AM) UTC.

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According to local news, a volcano erupted near Saba Island in the Red Sea on Monday 19 Dec 2011. The report comes from fishermen from Salif, a port city in western Yemen. They reported seeing lava fountains rising 20-30 meter which could be seen from "3 hours" (sailing time) away. The likely source of the eruption, if the reports are true, could be one of the islands Zubair islands: Jebel Zubair, Centre Peak, Saba, or Haycock island, which form a small archipelago 30 miles (50 km) west of Salif. The islands belong to a mostly submerged, active shield volcano located on the Red Sea rift axis. The fishermen are said that "this was the first volcano they ever seen in the region", which is not surprising as the last activity of the volcano was an eruption in 1824. At the moment, the report remains a bit questionable: no thermal anomaly or ash clouds are visible on satellite data. This could indicate that either the eruption was extremely short and small, or (more likely) that there something else happened (military action, fire etc) which was mistaken by untrained distant observers for lava fountains. On the other hand, volcanic eruptions on the Red Sea rift are nothing unusual, although the remoteness of the area often prevents observation.