A volcano on the island of La Palma spewed lava and smoke, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and forcing the Spanish prime minister to delay a trip to New York.
A volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday, erupting a thick column of lava and smoke and prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents from nearby cities.
The eruption was the first in 50 years on La Palma, a resort island in the Canary Islands popular with visitors from northern Europe. The Canary Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa.
Spain’s military said on Sunday it would evacuate 5,000 to 10,000 residents of villages along the edge of La Cumbre Vieja National Park, as lava and fires swept through nearby fields and homes.
Firefighters and emergency workers were being dispatched from the archipelago’s larger islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez delayed a planned trip to New York ahead of the UN General Assembly. Instead, Mr. Sanchez joined members of the military’s national emergency response unit in La Palma on Sunday.
The volcano erupted around 3:15 p.m., dramatically ejecting lava into the air and sending flaming rivers of molten lava to its shores. Scientists warned that an eruption was imminent after days of increased seismic activity in the area, including a 3.8 magnitude earthquake.
Home to approximately 85,000 residents, La Palma is one of the smallest Canary Islands. The last most recent eruption on La Palma began in October 1971 and lasted for more than three weeks. One person, a tourist, was killed in that explosion, who died of toxic gases while trying to admire the lava.