SANAA, Oct 1 (Reuters) A volcanic eruption off the Red Sea coast of Yemen spewed lava hundreds of yards (metres) into the air Sunday evening and at least 9 people were missing at sea, Canadian naval officials and the Yemeni state news agency said.
The eruption occurred on Jazirt Mount al-Tair, an island about 80 miles (140 km) from Yemen.
Yemen's Oil Minister Khaled Mahfoudh Bahah said several earthquakes were felt on the island yesterday which triggered the eruption.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave instructions to the Yemeni navy to send rescue teams to the island and to search for 8 missing people, state news agency Saba said.
A Canadian frigate, HMCS Toronto, was conducting a search and rescue operation at the request of the Yemen coast guard. At the time of the eruption, the NATO fleet was sailing north towards the Suez Canal, the Canadian navy said in a statement.
It said it was trying to locate 9 people believed to be at sea in the area.
Navy spokesman Ken Allen told Canadian Press lava was spewing hundreds of yards into the air, with volcanic ash also rising 300 yards (metres).
In an e-mail from Toronto, he said the entire 2-mile-long (3-km-long) island was aglow with lava and magma as it poured into the sea.
REUTERS SYU HT1017