A volcano erupted on Sunday on La Palma Island, Spain, where lava and thick pillars of smoke erupted, urging authorities to evacuate thousands of residents from nearby towns.
The eruption at La Palma, a resort island in the Canary Islands that is popular with visitors from Northern Europe, was the first in 50 years. The Canary Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa.
Spanish troops said on Sunday that lava and fire spilled near surrounding farms and homes, evacuating 5,000 to 10,000 residents of the village on the edge of Lakumbrevieja National Park.
Firefighters and rescue workers were dispatched from the larger islands of the archipelago, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delayed a planned trip to New York prior to the UN General Assembly. Instead, Mr Sanchez joined the military’s National Emergency Response Unit in La Palma on Sunday.
The volcano erupted at around 3:15 pm, dramatically expelling lava into the air and sending a fiery river of lava to its sides. Scientists have warned that an eruption is imminent days after increased seismic activity in the region, including a magnitude 3.8 earthquake.
La Palma, home to approximately 85,000 inhabitants, is one of the smallest islands in the Canary Islands. The last eruption in La Palma began in October 1971 and lasted for more than three weeks. The eruption killed one of the tourists who died after inhaling toxic gas in an attempt to admire the lava.