A MASS evacuation plan has been put in motion on the Spanish island of La Palma after a volcano erupted in the south of the island sending lava shooting into the air and streaming in rivers towards houses.
The eruption of the Teneguia volcano located in La Cumbre Vieja national park in the south of the island of La Palma began around 3.12pm this Sunday.
By 5pm the emergency level changed to Red traffic light, alert 2 for fire risk, affecting the municipalities of Tazacorte, El Paso, Fuencaliente, Mazo and Los Llanos de Aridane, with some 35,000 people in total.
So far, the Guardia Civil have evacuated 5,000 people affected by the lava and plumes of thick, toxic smoke which has billowed into the sky.
Residents of the area of Alcala and El Paraiso were the first to be evacuated, followed by residents in in El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte, in anticipation to the advance of the tongue of lava—about 1,075ºC—moving across the island.
Authorities have estimated that in total up to 10,000 people could be evacuated and have advised the population to close all windows and exterior doors, lower the shutters and turn off water, gas and electricity supplies and to go to the established assembly points.
Hiking trails surrounding the volcano have also been closed as a precaution.
“We call on people to exercise extreme caution and to stay away from the eruption area in order to avoid unnecessary risks,” said the president of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, at a press conference following the emergency committee meeting at around 10.30pm local time, yesterday, Sunday.
“Likewise, it is very important to keep roads clear so that they can be used by our land operatives.” he added.
According to Torres, the lava is moving towards the coast and the ‘damage will be material.’
The technical committee have reported that there are two fissures, 200 metres apart, through which volcanic material is coming out of eight mouths.
“Everything suggests that there will be no new eruption points, though there may be another fissure, but public safety is guaranteed,” Torres concluded.