December 5, 2022

A volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma has forced thousands of people to flee

The lava flows slowly from the erupting volcano in the Canary Islands of Spain in northwest Africa, but the head of the regional government said there were no injuries to people in the area after 5,000 people were evacuated on Monday. The Canary Islands Volcano reports that lava flows over the sea off the island of La Palma, moving at a speed of 2,300 feet per hour.

Angel Vector Torres, head of the Canary Islands government, told SER radio that the volcano was moving through two streams, mostly in a no-man’s land. SER reported that about 20 isolated houses were destroyed.

Mount Gumbre Visa
On Sunday, September 19, 2021, Mount Cumbre erupted in El Paso, spewing passages of smoke, ash and volcanoes, as seen from the Los Lanos de Ariden on the Canary Islands of La Palma.

Like Martin / AFP via Getty Images

“We did not expect any other explosion,” Torres said, adding that air traffic in the area had not been affected.

“There will be significant material damage,” he said. “We hope there will be no personal injuries.”

The eruption opened two cracks about 650 feet apart. Officials said the volcanic streams would converge before reaching the ocean.

The volcano erupted into the city of Los Lanos de Ariden, located near the volcano. City Mayor Noelia Garcia said people were being evicted from their homes up to the beach.

Experts said the eruption could last for weeks or even months.

Lava flows behind houses following a volcanic eruption in Spain
On September 20, 2021, lava flowed behind houses following a volcanic eruption in Cumbre Viza National Park in Los Lanos de Ariden, on the Canary Islands of La Palma.

Borja Suarez / Appointments

The people in La Palma mostly live off agriculture.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was due to travel to the affected area on Monday after canceling a trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

The volcano erupted on Sunday after a week of seismic activity. The Canary Islands Volcano Research Institute recorded the first eruption near the southern tip of the island, which last saw in 1971.

Scientists have been meticulously observing large red worms emitting black and white smoke across the summit of the Gumbre Viza volcano, accumulating molten volcanoes below the surface and following days of small earthquakes.

Authorities evacuated more than 5,000 people by Monday morning, but the Spanish Civil Guard said a total of 10,000 residents had to be evacuated the previous day.

A house burns down as a volcano erupts in Spain
On September 20, 2021, a house was gutted by a volcanic eruption in Cumbre Viza National Park in Los Lanos de Ariden, Canary Island, La Palma.

Borja Suarez / Appointments

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of the eight volcanic islands in the Canary Islands of Spain off the west coast of Africa. The islands are 60 miles from Morocco.

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake was recorded before the volcano erupted, which occurred in the area of ​​Kabosa de Waqa on the western slope as the ridge descended to the coast. As the eruptions continued the two open mouths blew bright red magma into the air and then flowed into tight streams on the mountain slope.

When Carlotta Martin heard the sound of a huge explosion, her family was in Dodok, on a farm project just down from the site of the explosion.

“When we saw the smoke program, we thought it might not be true, but it kept growing, and we knew we had to get out of there,” he told the Associated Press. “You ‘re leaving, but you’ll be looking back, too, because you have to see what happens. No one knows how the volcanic eruption will go down, but our plot and many houses in that area may be on the way.”

Vikja Volcano Peak
Sunday, September 19, 2021 Smoke rises at the Cumbre Viza volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries of Spain.

Jonathan Rodriguez / A.P.

The last eruption in La Palma 50 years ago lasted more than three weeks. The last eruption of all the Canary Islands occurred off the coast of El Hiro Island in 2011. It lasted five months.

“The material appears to be very liquid, and the volcanic flow will soon reach the ocean,” said Vicente Soler, a volcanic researcher at the Spanish High Council. A section of the island’s southwest coast is at risk of landslides and rock falls, according to the Scientific Committee of the Volcanic Risk Prevention Project.