A volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday, causing violent explosions in the municipality of El Paso, south of the island, forcing at least 5,000 people to flee the area, local media reported.
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the volcano spewed rocky fragments and lava into the air, as well as huge amounts of brown and white smoke after an initial eruption at 3:12 pm (14:12 GMT).
The newspaper reported on its website that the Civil Guard evacuated at least 5,000 people affected by the eruption. Canaris 7 TV reported earlier that 500 tourists were among those evacuated from the surrounding areas so far.
The fire brigade worked to extinguish the forest fires caused by the eruption, while a large ash cloud could be seen over the island, where the Cumbre Vieja volcanic mountain range is located.
Television stations showed footage of lava slowly flowing from the volcano towards the coast, crossing a road and surrounding at least one house.
And the authorities on the small island, which has a population of about 83,000 people, called on residents to remain calm because the eruption was not of an explosive nature so far.
But the authorities announced a volcanic emergency plan and began evacuations. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez canceled a scheduled trip to the United States and arrived in La Palma on Sunday evening.
An eruption was expected after thousands of earthquakes in the past few days. Moreover, the earth layer rose slightly in some places, indicating that molten rock was accumulating under Cumbre Vega.
Earlier this week, the authorities asked citizens in the south to pack their belongings, mobile phones, important documents and any medication they might need, in case they had to evacuate the area.
The last eruption of La Palma occurred in October 1971, when the Tiguya volcano spewed lava for more than three weeks after a rift appeared in the south of the island.
La Palma, unlike the famous islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife, is not a popular tourist destination.
– Al Bayan Newspaper (@AlBayanNews) September 20, 2021