Volcano eruption destroys homes in Spain’s Canary Islands

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A volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands has destroyed houses, authorities said Monday, as it spewed lava and ash after coming to life over the weekend and forcing some 5,000 people from their homes.

“A number of houses have been destroyed”, a regional government spokeswoman told AFP, adding that they were still surveying the area to determine precisely how many properties had been engulfed.

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Sergio Rodriguez, a local mayor in a nearby village of El Paso said at least 20 homes were completely destroyed by the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which erupted Sunday for the first time in 50 years.

He spoke of the volcano’s indiscriminate destruction.

“The lava left absolutely nothing in its path”, Rodriguez told TVE broadcaster, saying residents were living in uncertainty.

They will “not be going home for a while, most definitely”, he added.
Spanish media said as many as 100 homes might have been impacted by the eruption.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez cancelled a scheduled trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly after the eruption.

He arrived at the scene late Sunday evening to assess the situation.

“Given the situation (on) La Palma island, the head of government has delayed his scheduled departure today for New York,” to attend the UN General Assembly, a statement said earlier.

“All services are prepared to act in a coordinated fashion,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

Cumbre Vieja straddles a ridge in the south of La Palma island, home to around 80,000 people.

According to the local government’s projections, lava flows from the volcano, located in the center of the island, were likely to move southwest towards inhabited and wooded areas, before reaching the coast.

The lava flows were moving at about 700 meters (yards) an hour, and had a temperature of nearly 1,000 Centigrade, according to the Canaries Islands Institute of Volcanology.

Experts had been keeping a close watch on the volcano after observing a recent upsurge in seismic activity and magma displacements.

An earthquake swarm under La Cumbre Vieja began a week ago and since then there had been thousands of tremors, the strongest with a magnitude of nearly four, the Involcan volcanology institute said.

An earthquake swarm is a sequence of seismic events occurring in one place within a relatively short period of time.

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