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Volcanic eruption forces 5,000 people to flee La Palma villages as lava flow destroys homes

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Volcanic eruption forces 5,000 people to flee La Palma villages as lava flow destroys homes

The mayor of El Paso, La Palma, Sergio Rodriguez Fernandez, says the volcanic eruption on the island has destroyed at least 20 homes, forcing the evacuation of 5,000 people, with hundreds more at risk from the growing lava flow.

Speaking to TVE radio, Rodriguez Fernandez warned that the nearby village of Los Llanos de Aridane was at risk, with officials “monitoring the trajectory of the lava” following the volcano’s eruption on Sunday afternoon.

Footage captured after the eruption showed lava flying hundreds of meters into the air, sending volcanic debris into the Atlantic Ocean and towards populated regions of La Palma, part of the Spanish Canary Islands.

So far, officials have successfully evacuated around 5,000 people from several villages in El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane. While the lava is still spreading, no more evacuations are currently planned. No injuries or fatalities have been reported, with volcanologist Nemesio Perez stating that none are expected, as long as people behave sensibly.

“The lava is moving towards the coast and the damage will be material. According to experts there are about 17-20 million cubic meters of lava,” the regional president of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, said on Monday.

La Palma and the surrounding area have been on alert for the past week, after more than 22,000 tremors were detected in the Cumbre Vieja National Park, one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canary Islands.

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The last eruption from the volcano occurred in 1971, with only one fatality occurring after a man got too close to the lava flow. In that instance, no property was damaged.

Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has arrived on the island to help support the local government’s response to the eruption, pledging to provide “all the resources and all the troops” necessary, so “citizens can rest easy.”

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