San Francisco Chronicle

Eruption rocks La Palma


A volcano on Spain’s Atlantic Ocean island of La Palma erupted Sunday after a week-long buildup of seismic activity, prompting authoritie­s to speed up evacuation­s for 1,000 people as lava flows destroyed isolated homes on the mountainsi­de.

The Canary Islands Volcanolog­y Institute reported the eruption of Cumbre Vieja, which last erupted in 1971. Huge red plumes topped with black-and-white smoke shot out of five eruption points along the ridge.

The explosion took place in an area known as Cabeza de Vaca on the western slope of the volcanic ridge as it descends

to the coast.

Sergio Rodriguez, the mayor of El Paso, said 300 people in immediate danger had been evacuated from their homes. Roads were closed and authoritie­s urged the curious not to approach the area.

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of eight islands in Spain’s Canary Islands archipelag­o off Africa’s western coast.

Itahiza Dominguez, head of seismology of Spain’s National Geology Institute, told local TV station RTVC that although it was too early to tell how long this eruption would last, prior “eruptions on the Canary Islands lasted weeks or even months.”

After days of what scientists call an “earthquake swarm,” authoritie­s on La Palma already

had started to evacuate residents with reduced mobility Sunday shortly before the eruption.

The area near the southern tip of the island where the ridge is located is sparsely populated.

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