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The volcano at Cumbre Vieja de La Palma erupts

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It has at least seven vents through which it spews lava flows and incandescent stones.

The Civil Guard has launched an evacuation plan affecting more than 5,000 people.

A volcanic eruption has started this Sunday in Cumbre Vieja de La Palma, in the area of Las Manchas, after more than a week in which thousands of seismos have accumulated in the area. The Civil Guard has launched an evacuation plan that affects more than 5,000 people from different neighborhoods of the municipalities of El Paso, Tazacorte and Los Llanos de Aridane.

The Canary Islands Government has requested the Ministry of Defense to activate the Military Emergency Unit and has raised to level 3, red traffic light, the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan.

At the site of the eruption -which occurred at 15.20, Canary Island time- a huge column of volcanic materials, smoke and ashes can be seen. For that reason, the insular Executive has also recommended to the nearby population to avoid going out of their houses as much as possible due to the risk that the ash may cause injuries to the respiratory tract, eyes and open wounds, as well as skin irritation.

It is a forest area and, as confirmed on TVE the president of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, is an unpopulated area, although there are five municipalities on alert and had already been evacuated preventively about 300 people, after a week of alert for seismic movements.

Some houses affected

The president of the Cabildo de La Palma, Mariano Hernandez Zapata, has confirmed in statements to the media that no one is injured, although the abundant magma that flows from two of the mouths of the volcano has crossed the Tacande road and is heading towards the nuclei of Alcala and El Paraiso, where some homes have been affected.

Zapata has urged the population to exercise extreme caution and has asked not to approach the area and keep the roads clear so as not to hinder the work of the ground operation.

“I am very scared, I never thought I would be evacuated from my house,” Luz María, a resident of El Paraíso who had to leave her home after spending “all day and all night shaking and waiting for the eruption,” told TVE.

Marta, a neighbor of Las Manchas, says that the volcano “has burst near my house, one or two kilometers away” and has had to leave “with my parents, my partner and my brother” in the direction of the soccer field of El Paso, where she will have to wait for the situation to improve. “We have no other choice,” he says.

The technicians analyze the evolution of the eruption and the data received to make forecasts of where the magma could advance and thus carry out new evacuations, if necessary.

The spokesman of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), David Calvo, told Efe that it is believed that the volcano has seven eruptive mouths that emit lava, which does not advance very quickly. Calvo has specified that the eruption has occurred in an area near two ravines, so it is possible that the lava is channeled in its search for the coast, although the process may take several days.

Another member of Involcan, Iván Cabrera pointed out on Canal 24 Horas that it is an eruption “typically fissural, which means that the ground opens up and material begins to come out”.

Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias: “It is a strombolian eruption that emits lava fountains and pyroclasts “play video03.49 minVolcanological Institute of the Canary Islands: “It is a strombolian eruption that emits lava fountains and pyroclasts”.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has landed in La Palma shortly after 21:30 hours to attend the meeting of the steering committee of the Special Protection Plan against Volcanic Risk in the Canary Islands (Pevolca), which will examine the latest information gathered by the scientific teams monitoring the eruption, with the aim of updating the evacuation and protection plans for citizens in potentially affected areas.

Sanchez has postponed his trip to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The airspace of La Palma remains open, although the air navigation manager in Spain, Enaire, has activated the action procedure for volcanic ashes, with no transit area excluded for now.

Cumbre Vieja de La Palma is one of the most active volcanic complexes in the Canary Islands. It has been the site of two of the last three eruptions recorded on the islands, the San Juan volcano (1949) and the Teneguía volcano (1971).

Increased seismic activity

The National Geographic Institute and the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands had recorded since a week ago an important accumulation of small earthquakes in the surroundings of the Cumbre Vieja, with foci that began at a depth of more than 20 kilometers, but that were progressively ascending to the surface.

The earthquakes were growing in intensity, until reaching this Sunday a magnitude of 3.8, so it was decided to evacuate several people with reduced mobility in the nearby villages because of the possibility of an eruption, as it has finally happened.

Since historical records exist -in the 15th century, after the conquest of the Canary Islands-, the island of La Palma has been the scene of seven of the 16 volcanic eruptions that have occurred in the archipelago. The first one took place in 1430, while in the one before the current one, which occurred in 1971, a man died while taking photographs near the lava.

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