Around 6,000 people were evacuated from their homes this weekend after a volcano erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma, part of the Canary Islands. The event had been widely anticipated following thousands of tremors in the space of a week. The entire archipelago is volcanic in origin and the activity continues to be recorded in the area. There was another eruption in La Palma in 1971, as well as a submarine eruption off the island of El Hierro in 2011.
So far the eruption has not claimed any victims, but it has forced around 6,000 people to evacuate their homes. The scene in the area was described on Monday as “devastating” by the president of the La Palma island council. The Volcanology Institute explained in a statement that more than 25,000 earthquakes had been detected in the past nine days around the Cumbre Vieja volcano. The highest magnitude registered was an earthquake of 4.2 on the Richter Scale on Sunday.
Drone footage captured two tongues of lava cutting through the landscape as they advanced down the volcano’s western side towards the sea. Experts say that if and when the lava reaches the sea it could trigger more explosions and clouds of toxic gases. Mariano Hernández, chief of the island’s council explained: “It’s advancing very slowly and what we’re really worried about at the moment its the progress towards the coast because it’s very close to Todoque, a neighbourhood that’s home to more than 1,000 people. More than 150 homes have literally disappeared, and if the advance continues at its current pace, that number could double or triple.”