Columns of smoke and lava flows: For the first time in 50 years, a volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma in the tourist archipelago of the Canaries on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of nearly 5,000 people.
Large columns of smoke, ash and lava flows were emanating from several points of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, according to an AFP correspondent at the site, which was kept under close surveillance for a week due to an intense seismic activity.
Impressive images showed jets of lava rising several tens of meters high.
The island’s local government (Cabildo) said on its Twitter account, “Eruptions began in the Cabeza de Veca area in El Paso”, just after 3 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT), where the maximum alert level is introduced. Gaya.
No human life was affected on Sunday evening and at the moment, “all evacuations have been carried out, that is, about 5,000 people”, in the villages closest to the volcano, assured the president of the region of the Canaries, ngel Victor. Torres at a news conference.
Many houses were hit by the lava while many roads were cut.
The region’s president outlined “fate” that the explosion took place “in an uninhabited area” of La Palma.
The island, one of seven islands in the archipelago off the coast of northwest Africa, has approximately 85,000 inhabitants.
According to estimates by the government of La Palma, the lava flow, descending from the volcano located in the center-west of the island, should be towards the sea in the south-west of the island, passing through now empty and wooded inhabited areas, which Creates a risk of fire.
According to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, these lava flows were moving at an average speed of 700 mph at about 1,000 °C.
“The eruption will continue but everything suggests that there will be no new eruption points,” said Angel Victor Torres.
– Pedro Sanchez on site –
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who was due to visit New York for the United Nations General Assembly, decided to immediately travel to the island he arrived in the evening to follow the development of the situation and operations.
According to the Interior Ministry, more than 200 reinforcements were mobilized from the security forces.
The first unit of the Army specializing in the management of natural calamities should reach the spot during the night.
According to aviation officials, activity at the island’s airport has not been affected for the time being and a no-fly zone has been ordered.
– Last eruption in 1971 –
The Cumbre Vieja volcano was under close surveillance for a week, due to a massive surge in seismic activity.
Several thousand earthquakes of magnitudes as low as about 4 on the Richter scale have been recorded by Involcan since last Saturday. Canary Islands Volcanology Institute.
Millions of cubic meters of magma had also gone inside the volcano, while the ground was raised by more than 10 centimeters due to the rise of magma in the volcanic area.
Officials, who told the population to be prepared for several days, moved hours before the eruption to evacuate people with reduced mobility to municipalities closest to the volcano. The last eruption on the island of La Palma occurred 50 years ago in 1971.
Of volcanic origin, the Spanish archipelago of the Canaries experienced its last eruption in 2011, this time underwater, on the island of El Hierro, which resulted in the evacuation of several hundred people from some areas of the island.
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