Volcano erupts on Spain's Canary Islands

After Mount Cumbre Vieja, an eruption on the Canary Islands, erupted, evacuations began.
Authorities said that the Cumbre Vieja volcano in Spain's Canary Islands erupted Sunday, spewing lava, ash, and a large column of smoke. It was the result of days of increasing seismic activity. This prompted authorities to evacuate around 1,300 residents.

Cumbre Vieja is a volcano that last erupted fifty years ago. It sits on a ridge south of La Palma, where it is home to approximately 80,000 people.

The local government stated on Twitter that the eruption began in El Paso's Cabeza de Vaca area.

In a dozen locations on maximum alert, evacuation was mandatory and temporary shelters were open.

The local government stated that people are asked to exercise extreme caution and to avoid the eruption zone in order to reduce the risk.

Angel Victor Torres (head of the Canaries region), stated that the area was "sparsely populated" and said there had been no casualties.

In total, between 5,000 to 10,000 people would need to be evacuated.

Many homes were affected by the lava, rendering many roads impassable.

The projections of the local government indicate that lava flows from the volcano in the center of the island are likely to move toward the coast, passing through inhabited and forest areas.

The eruption was live broadcast by state television in the afternoon.

A map showing the location of a volcano on La Palma Island, Canary Island.

Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain, arrived on Sunday night.

"Given La Palma's current situation, the head of government has postponed his departure for New York today," to attend UN General Assembly.

Sanchez tweeted, "All services are ready to act in coordination,"

Aena, an airport operator, stated that flights from and to the island were not disrupted as of 1830 GMT.

According to the interior ministry, 200 security personnel were mobilized with a helicopter back-up.

Tausendes of tremors

After observing an increase in seismic activity, experts had been closely monitoring the volcano.

A week ago, an earthquake swarm under La Cumbre Vieja started. Since then, there have been thousands of tremors with magnitudes of almost four.

The volcano is located on a ridge to the south of La Palma Island and was first active in 1949. It then erupted again in 1971.

An earthquake swarm refers to a series of seismic events that occur in one location within a short time span.

On Tuesday, authorities raised the alert level to yellow in certain areas around the volcano. This meant that civil protection officials had to advise the public to "take precautions before a possible eruption".

Involcan reported that there was a "significant ground shift" due to "a small volume of magma" flowing into the reservoir beneath the volcano. This volume was approximately 11 million cubic metres.

It stated that "undoubtedly, the current seismic swarm represents an important change in the activity at Cumbre Vieja volcano. This is related to a process magmatic intrusion underneath the island of La Palma."

The Canaries, an archipelago consisting of seven islands, is located off northwestern Africa's coast. It last experienced a volcanic eruption in 2011.

Cumbre Vieja was erupted twice during the 20th century, in 1971 and 1949.

Continue reading Threat of volcanic eruption places Spanish island under alert

2021 AFP