2021-09-20 00:52:37 Thousands Evacuated as Canary Island Volcano Erupts

Thousands Evacuated as Canary Island Volcano Erupts

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

The eruption was the first in 50 years on La Palma, a resort island in the Canary Islands popular with northern European visitors. The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, off Africa’s northwestern coast.

As flowing lava and fires approached the surrounding farms and homes, Spain’s military said on Sunday that it would evacuate between 5,000 and 10,000 residents of villages on the outskirts of La Cumbre Vieja national park.

Firefighters and emergency personnel were dispatched from the archipelago’s larger islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez postponed a planned trip to New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. Mr. Sánchez instead joined members of the military’s national emergency response unit in La Palma on Sunday.

Around 3:15 p.m., the volcano erupted, spewing lava into the air and sending fiery rivers of molten lava down its sides. Scientists had warned of an impending eruption after days of increased seismic activity in the area, including a magnitude 3.8 earthquake.

La Palma is one of the smallest Canary Islands, with a population of approximately 85,000 people. The most recent eruption on La Palma occurred in October 1971 and lasted for more than three weeks. One person was killed in that eruption: a tourist who died after inhaling toxic gases while admiring the lava.

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Thousands Evacuated as Canary Island Volcano Erupts