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Earthquake-hit island prepares for potential disaster

Earthquake-hit island prepares for potential disaster

Patiently waiting for a flight to the volcanic mid-Atlantic island he calls home, Portuguese businessman Felipe Azevedo can’t hide his fear. São Jorge, in the Azores, is preparing for what could be a major natural disaster.

The island of Portugal has been hit by thousands of small earthquakes in recent days and there are fears that more than 2,000 tremors recorded since last Saturday could lead to a volcanic eruption or a powerful earthquake.

“We are all very nervous,” said Azevedo, 42, at the airport gate on São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores, a short flight from São Jorge. “It’s a phenomenon that we’re not ready for…we are all so afraid.”

Azevedo is also concerned that uncertainty over the situation could hurt his hotel, which is still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 virus.

“It is empty and will remain empty,” he said of the hotel. “Everyone cancels.”

The Azores Volcanoes Information and Monitoring Center (Civisa) raised the Volcanic Alert Level to 4 on Wednesday, on a scale of 5, meaning there is a “real possibility” that the volcano will erupt for the first time since 1808.

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