A volcano erupted Sunday on one of Spain’s Canary Islands, after a week of heightened seismic activity.
The volcano is located on La Palma, the fifth-largest island in the Spanish archipelago that sits in the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Morocco.
Local TV station Radio Television Canaria (RTVC) showed footage of red-hot lava and dust emanating from the Cumbre Vieja National Park in the south of the island.
Canary Islands regional President Angel Victor Torres told Spanish state broadcaster TVE that no injuries had been reported so far.
Local media reported that several isolated homes were destroyed by the lava flows.
The fire brigade was brought in to fight forest fires caused by the eruption.
Flights to and from the Canaries — which are popular with European tourists — were continuing as normal, airport operator Aena said.
Evacuation operation underway
Emergency services immediately began to evacuate around 2,000 residents, authorities said, having started moving those with reduced mobility earlier in the day.
Spain’s Civil Guard said later it may need to evacuate up to 10,000 residents.
“People are asked to be extremely careful and to stay away from the eruption zone to avoid needless risk,” the government added.
Sunday’s eruption follows a series of earth tremors this week, measured at 3.8-magnitude, whose vibrations were felt on the surface.
More than 22,000 tremors were recorded in the area — one of the most active volcanoes in the Canary Islands.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez flew to La Palma on Sunday evening to see the eruption for himself.
Earlier, he said state organizations were ready to support La Palma “in a coordinated manner.”
Earlier eruptions lasted months
Itahiza Dominguez, head of seismology at Spain’s National Geology Institute, told RTVC that it was too early to tell how long this eruption would last.
He added that prior “eruptions on the Canary Islands lasted weeks or even months.”
Eruption area is sparsely populated
The island of La Palma, one of several in the Canary Islands group, has around 83,000 residents.
Along with Tenerife, La Palma is the most volcanically active of the islands.
Sunday’s eruption is the eighth since records began and the first on La Palma since 1971.
The last eruption on any of the Canary Islands occurred underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011. That event lasted five months.
Unlike the better-known islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife, La Palma is not a popular tourist destination.
mm, jcg/jlw (Reuters, EFE)
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