Thousands evacuated in Canary Islands volcano eruption

A volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday, spewing lava and a thick column of smoke and prompting authorities to eva...


A volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday, spewing lava and a thick column of smoke and prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents from neighboring towns.

The eruption was the first in 50 years on La Palma, a resort island in the Canary archipelago popular with visitors from northern Europe. The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest coast of Africa.

The Spanish military said on Sunday it would evacuate between 5,000 and 10,000 residents from villages on the edge of La Cumbre Vieja National Park, as lava flows and fires approached surrounding farms and homes.

Firefighters and rescuers have been dispatched from the archipelago’s largest islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has delayed a planned trip to New York before the United Nations General Assembly. Instead, Sánchez joined members of the army’s national emergency response unit in La Palma on Sunday.

The volcano erupted around 3:15 p.m., spewing lava dramatically into the air and sending rivers of molten lava along its flanks. Scientists had warned that an eruption was imminent after days of increased seismic activity in the area, including a magnitude 3.8 earthquake.

Home to around 85,000 inhabitants, La Palma is one of the smallest Canary Islands. The most recent previous eruption on La Palma began in October 1971 and lasted for over three weeks. This eruption killed one person, a tourist who died after inhaling poisonous gases while trying to admire the lava.

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