Las Vegas Review-Journal

Volcano erupts on Spanish island

Lava decimates some homes; 5K evacuated

- By Jonathan Rodríguez and Joseph Wilson

LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE, Spain — A volcano on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma erupted Sunday after a weeklong buildup of seismic activity, prompting authoritie­s to step up plans for evacuating thousands as lava flows destroyed isolated houses and threatened to reach the coast.

New eruptions continued into the night.

The Canary Islands Volcanolog­y Institute reported the initial eruption near the southern end of the island, which saw its last eruption in 1971. Huge red plumes topped with black-and-white smoke shot out along the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge, which scientists had been closely watching following the accumulati­on of molten lava below the surface and days of small earthquake­s.

Víctor Torres, president of the Canary Islands, said that by 11 p.m. some 5,000 people had been evacuated from their homes.

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of eight volcanic islands in Spain’s Canary Islands archipelag­o off Africa’s western coast. At their nearest point, the islands are 60 miles from Morocco.

A 4.2-magnitude quake was recorded before the volcanic eruption, which took place in an area known as Cabeza de Vaca on the western slope as the ridge descends to the coast. As the eruptions continued, at least two open mouths belched bright red magma into the air that then flowed in tight streams down the mountain slope.

Shortly after the initial explosion rocked the area, one black lava flow with a burning tip immediatel­y slid toward houses in the village of El Paso. Mayor Sergio Rodríguez said 300 people in immediate danger were evacuated, roads were closed and authoritie­s urged the curious not to approach the area.

The lava eventually reached some homes, causing at least one chalet with a tower to crumble. Authoritie­s warned that the lava flows could also threaten the municipali­ties of El Paraíso, Alcalá and surroundin­g areas.

The last eruption on La Palma 50 years ago lasted just over three weeks. The last eruption on all the Canary Islands occurred underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011. It lasted five months.

 ?? Jonathan Rodriguez The Associated Press ?? Lava flows Sunday from an eruption of a volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain. The last eruption on the island occurred in 1971.
Jonathan Rodriguez The Associated Press Lava flows Sunday from an eruption of a volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain. The last eruption on the island occurred in 1971.

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