The volcano Cumbre Vieja erupted on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands archipelago. About five thousand people have been evacuated so far, including five hundred tourists.
According to the authorities of La Palma in the Canary Islands on Sunday, a huge column of smoke rose into the air after a volcanic eruption at 3.15pm local time (4.15pm in Poland) in the Cumbre Vieja National Park in the south of the island. Hours before the eruption, seismic activity intensified around the volcanic crater ridge of Cumbre Vieja, where 130 intense quakes were recorded. Even before the explosion, about 300 people were preventively evacuated from there.
According to experts from the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan), the eruption in the Cumbre Vieja zone is of the crevice type, which means that fractures have opened due to the accumulation and pressure of subsurface magma in the ground. Currently, there are at least seven such fissures, through which lava and incandescent stones emerge.
La Palma. Evacuation is underway
“So far, about five thousand people, including 500 tourists, have been evacuated from municipalities threatened by a volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma,” local police said on Sunday night. The authorities do not rule out the necessity to evacuate up to 10,000 people.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in the Canary Islands late Sunday evening. The head of the Spanish government canceled his trip to New York for a session of the UN General Assembly in order to closely follow the development of the situation on the island of La Palma.
The government informed that no one has been injured so far, although the magma emerging from the volcano had spilled over one of the roads and had approached several places. Many houses in this area have been destroyed. “Under no circumstances go near the lava flow,” warned local authorities. “If there is volcanic ash, stay in your homes,” it added.
La Palma and seismic activity
Cumbre Vieja is a volcanic ridge with many craters. For over a week there have been so-called seismic swarms – numerous small tremors. Last Friday, it was estimated that the pressure of the subsurface magma in the area had raised this part of the island by 15 centimeters. Experts pointed out that the epicenters are getting closer and closer to the surface.
The last major eruption in this area – one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canary Islands – occurred in 1971. Then one person died – trying to photograph the lava stream. However, there was no significant damage.
According to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING), the earliest recorded eruption on La Palma was in 1430.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Miguel Calero