La Palma: Canary Islands volcano continues to erupt
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La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands is home to the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which burst to life on Sunday afternoon. The eruption sent lava flowing down the hillside toward villages, destroying homes and forcing more than 5,000 people to flee.
Cumbre Vieja lies in the south of La Palma island, which is home to around 80,000 people.
La Palma had been on high alert after more than 22,000 tremors were recorded in one week around the volcano.
At 3pm on Sunday, huge plumes of lava were seen shooting from the volcano’s crater before pouring down the hillside.
There were mandatory evacuation orders for four villages, including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane, and temporary shelters were set up. No casualties have been reported.
Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres said on Sunday night: “It is not foreseeable that anyone else will have to be evacuated.”
He said the lava was snaking its way toward the coast, rather than across any more populated areas.
Jonas Perez, a local tour guide, said he could still feel tremors from the eruption.
He said: “But now the most amazing thing which I’ve never experienced is that the noise coming from the volcano, it sounds like… twenty fighter jets taking off and it’s extremely loud, it’s amazing.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in La Palma on Monday morning to monitor the situation, delaying his departure to New York for the UN General Assembly.
He said authorities are closely monitoring fires that may start from the burning lava.
Mr Sanchez said: “Everything is going according to plan, and therefore the priority is to guarantee the safety of the citizens of La Palma who could be affected as a consequence of this eruption.”
The military and civil guard has also been deployed to help as the eruption continues.
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When last did Cumbre Vieja erupt?
Cumbre Vieja, which translates to ‘old peak’, has erupted twice before in recorded history.
Once in 1949 – the most violent eruption yet recorded – and most recently in 1971.
In 1971, one man was killed as he was taking photographs near the lava flows, but no property was damaged.
Other historical eruptions occurred in 1470, 1585, 1646, 1677 and 1712, according to submarine surveys conducted by the Spanish National Geographical Institute.
One local resident, Isabel Fuentes, 55, told Spanish television TVE: “When the volcano erupted today, I was scared. For journalists it is something spectacular, for us, it is a tragedy.
“I think the lava has reached some relatives’ houses.
“I was 5 years old when the volcano last erupted [in 1971]. You never get over a volcanic eruption.”
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