Spanish PM arrives amid volcano eruption in Canary Islands

Residents watch lava following the eruption of a volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park at El Paso, on the Canary Island of La Palma
A 2km (1.2 mile) wide exclusion zone has been set up around the lava flow as it moves down the hillside

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has arrived on La Palma in the Canary Islands where a volcanic eruption has resulted in the evacuation of 5,000 people.

Aerial footage showed lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano spilling downhill and destroying several houses. Mr Sanchez said authorities are closely monitoring fires that may start from the burning lava. The military and civil guard has been deployed to help.

The volcano last erupted 50 years ago, it lies in the south of La Palma island, which is home to around 80,000 people. The eruption started around 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) and sent lava flowing down the hillside toward villages.

Jonas Perez, a local tour guide, said he could still feel tremors from the eruption. “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,” he added.

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 so far been reported.

“It is not foreseeable that anyone else will have to be evacuated,” Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres said on Sunday night, adding the lava was slowly moving towards the coast.

Mr Sanchez delayed his departure for the UN General Assembly in New York to meet Mr Torres to discuss the emergency services’ response to the eruption. “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,” Mr Sanchez said on Sunday.

La Palma had been on high alert after more than 22,000 tremors were recorded in one week around the volcano. The Canaries, an archipelago of seven islands off northwestern Africa, last recorded a volcanic eruption in 2011, undersea off El Hierro island. Cumbre Vieja last erupted in 1971 and in 1949.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s