Lava escapes from a volcano in La Palma, in the Canary Islands of Spain
- Authorities evacuate invalids and farm animals in the region
- Mandatory evacuation ordered for four villages
- Spain’s prime minister delays UN trip and visits islands
- The last major eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcanic range dates back to 1971
LA PALMA, Spain, September 19 (Reuters) – A volcano erupted on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma on Sunday, sending lava into the air and flowing in rivers towards homes in two villages in Cumbre National Park Vieja, in the south of the island.
Authorities had started to evacuate the infirm and some farm animals from neighboring villages before the eruption at 3:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. GMT) on a wooded slope in the sparsely populated Cabeza de Vaca region, according to the island government.
Two hours later, as lava poured down the hill from five torn cracks in the hill, the municipality ordered the evacuation of four villages, including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.
After dark, video footage showed lava fountains projecting hundreds of feet into the sky, and at least three glowing orange rivers of molten rock spilling over the hill, tearing gashes in the woods and tearing them apart. agricultural land, and spreading as it reached the lower lands.
A stream, several hundred meters long and tens of meters wide, crossed a road and began to engulf scattered houses in El Paso. Video footage shared on social media, which Reuters could not verify, showed lava entering a house.
“When the volcano erupted today, I was scared. For journalists, it’s something spectacular, for us it’s a tragedy. I think the lava reached the homes of some relatives “Isabel Fuentes, 55, told Spanish television TVE.
“I was 5 when the volcano last erupted (in 1971). You never recover from a volcanic eruption,” added Fuentes, who said she had moved to another house on Sunday to his safety.
‘STAY IN YOUR HOUSES’
Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres told a press conference on Sunday evening that 5,000 people had been evacuated and that no injuries had been reported so far.
“It is not foreseeable that someone else will have to be evacuated. The lava is moving towards the coast and the damage will be material. According to experts, there would be around 17 to 20 million cubic meters of lava,” did he declare.
Flights to and from the Canaries were continuing normally, the airport operator Aena said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in La Palma, the most northwestern island of the archipelago, on Sunday evening for talks with the government of the islands on the management of the eruption.
“We have all the resources (to deal with the eruption) and all the troops, the citizens can sleep easy,” he said.
Stavros Meletlidis, a doctor of volcanology at the Spanish Geographical Institute, said the eruption tore five holes in the hill and he could not know how long it would last.
“We have to measure the lava every day and that will help us determine it.”
King Felipe spoke with Torres and was following developments, the royal household said.
La Palma was on high alert after more than 22,000 tremors were reported in the space of a week in Cumbre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes that last experienced a major eruption in 1971 and is one of the most active volcanic regions of the Canaries.
In 1971, a man was killed while taking pictures near the lava flows, but no property was damaged.
The first recorded eruption in La Palma dates back to 1430, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING).
Reporting by Graham Keeley and Borja Suarez; Writing by Toby Chopra and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Gareth Jones, David Clarke, Edmund Blair and Diane Craft
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