More than a thousand people evacuated after the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano

Mount Cumbre Vieja erupts in El Paso, spewing plumes of smoke, ash and lava as seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary Island of La Palma. Photo: AFP

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, in the Canary archipelago, erupted this Sunday after days of intense surveillance due to its seismic activity, the AFP agency reported.

The volcano spewed large columns of smoke, ash and lava, according to an AFP journalist present on the island. 

The images show spectacular lava eruptions, with an altitude of several tens of meters.

«Se ha iniciado la erupción en la zona de Cabeza de Vaca, en El Paso», afirmó poco después de las 15H00 locales (14H00 GMT) en su cuenta de Twitter el gobierno local de la isla, que comenzó a evacuar las zonas habitadas más cercanas al volcán.

«Se ruega a la población extremar las precauciones y no acercarse a la zona de la erupción para evitar riesgos innecesarios», añadió el gobierno local.

The authorities, who declared a maximum alert level, had already evacuated some 1.300 inhabitants on Sunday night from the towns closest to the site of the natural disaster.

Between 5.000 and 10.000 people are expected to be evacuated from various municipalities and housed in shelters.

The lava hit houses and several roads were cut off.

No obstante, el presidente regional de las Canarias, Ángel Víctor Torres, destacó la «suerte de que la erupción se haya producido en una zona despoblada» de una isla con 80.000 habitantes.

La Palma is one of the seven islands of the tourist archipelago of the Canaries, located near the coast of northwestern Africa.

According to the forecasts of the local executive of La Palma, the lava from Cumbre Vieja, located in the center of the island, should descend towards the southwestern coasts and flow into the sea.

The authorities expect him to pass through the evacuated towns, but fear that fires will break out.

Several thousand earthquakes

The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, decided to travel to the area this afternoon after the eruption began.

«Ante la situación generada en la isla de La Palma, el presidente del Gobierno ha aplazado el viaje previsto para hoy a Nueva York» para participar en la Asamblea General de la ONU, «y se desplazará esta misma tarde a Canarias para seguir la evolución de los acontecimientos», informó el equipo de prensa del ejecutivo.

«Me dirijo en estos momentos hacia Canarias (…) para conocer de primera mano la situación en La Palma», aseguró el socialista Sánchez en su cuenta de Twitter.

For now, the operation of the island's airport was not affected by volcanic activity, reported the Spanish group Aena, in charge of managing these infrastructures. 

The Cumbre Vieja was under a high level of alert for a week due to an increase in seismic activity on the island.

Since Saturday, the Canary Islands Institute of Volcanology registered several thousand low intensity earthquakes, up to a level 4 on the Richter scale, in the area of ​​the volcano.

Inside the volcano there were also movements of millions of cubic meters of magma and the ground rose about ten centimeters in the Cumbre Vieja area.

 

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