Tourists and residents are being evacuated from the foot of a volcano on El Hierro in the Canary Islands after a series of earthquakes raised fears of an eruption.

The islands’ regional government said it was in a state of pre-alert and was stocking drinking water and medical supplies, but played down any risk of a disaster.

The Pico de Malpaso mountain is reported to be spitting rocks intermittently, prompting authorities to make emergency preparations in case the volcano erupts.

More than 50 tourists and residents have been evacuated to protect them from flying volcanic rock and the defence ministry said it was preparing emergency shelters for 2,000 people on the island which has a population of 11,000.

The last volcanic eruption on the Canary Islands was on nearby La Palma in 1971.