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Evacuations pick up pace on Spanish island after volcano erupts

September 19, 2021
A videograb of a volcano erupting on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma on Sunday after a week-long buildup of seismic activity.
A videograb of a volcano erupting on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma on Sunday after a week-long buildup of seismic activity.

MADRID — A volcano on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma erupted on Sunday after a week-long buildup of seismic activity.

The Spanish authorities have sped up evacuations for 1,000 people in the vicinity as lava flows crept toward isolated homes on the mountainside.

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute first reported the eruption on Cumbre Vieja, which last erupted in 1971. Huge red plumes topped with black-and-white smoke shot out along the volcanic ridge.

Scientists had been closely following local developments since the accumulation of molten lava below the surface and days of small earthquakes.

The explosion took place in an area known as Cabeza de Vaca, on the western slope of the volcanic ridge as it descends to the coast. Tinges of red could be seen at the bottom of the black jets that shot rocks into the air.

One black lava flow with a burning tip was sliding toward some houses in the village of El Paso. Mayor Sergio Rodríguez said 300 people in immediate danger had been evacuated and sent to the El Paso football field.

Roads were closed due to the explosion and authorities urged the curious not to approach the area.

La Palma has a population of 85,000. The last eruption on the Canary Islands occurred underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011, and lasted for five months

People with reduced mobility had begun to be moved off the Spanish-owned Atlantic island of La Palma earlier on Sunday.

A 3.8-magnitude quake had been recorded on Sunday as vibrations from the seismic activity were felt on the surface.

The Spanish Volcano Risk Action Plan's scientific committee said that stronger earthquakes were “likely to be felt and may cause damage to buildings”.

The committee also pointed out some isolated locations at risk from landslides. Some of those evacuated be taken in at a military outpost on the island.

La Palma had been on alert for the past week, after geologists reported an accumulation of molten rock under Cumbre Vieja, a dormant volcanic ridge near the island’s southern tip. Its last eruption was in 1971. — Euronews


September 19, 2021
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