Canary Island volcano eruption spurs mass evacuation
A volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma caused local authorities to evacuate thousands, but no injuries were reported, according to The New York Times.
The island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands located off the coast of Africa, has about 85,000 residents. It was the island’s first volcanic eruption in 50 years.
Authorities planned to evacuate 5,000 to 10,000 people living in villages on the edge of La Cumbre Vieja national park because ash and lava from the eruption posed a threat to their safety.
Videos posted to social media showed homes surrounded by lava, and plumes of thick smoke billowing into the sky.
house reached by the lava of the volcano of La Palma in the Canary Islands @lapalma #lapalma pic.twitter.com/e1qihc69T0
— @ezequieleg968 (@ezequieleg968) September 19, 2021
Report of volcano erupting in Canary Islands: https://t.co/1ocxlUevw3
— Matthew Bennett (@matthewbennett) September 19, 2021
The island was on alert prior to the eruption, as several earthquakes had occurred in the area in the days prior, with the largest registering as a 4.2 on the Richter Scale, according to CNN.
Island residents who would need assistance with evacuating, including those with disabilities, were preemptively moved from the area prior to the eruption. Hiking trails surrounding the volcano had also been closed as a precaution.
“We call on people to exercise extreme caution and to stay away from the eruption area in order to avoid unnecessary risks,” the local government tweeted on Sunday, noted CNN. “Likewise, it is very important to keep roads clear so that they can be used by our land operatives.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reportedly postponed his trip to New York for the United Nations general assembly meeting, instead opting to visit La Palma in the wake of the eruption.
“I am at the moment heading to the Canary Islands because of the seismic evolution, to see first-hand the situation in La Palma, the coordination of the means and the protocols that have been activated,” Sánchez tweeted Sunday.
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