Thousands evacuated as Canary Islands volcano erupts 1 month ago

Thousands evacuated as Canary Islands volcano erupts

There are fears that the eruption could last weeks

Thousands of people have been evacuated from the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands after a volcano erupted there on Sunday (September 19).

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The island, which has a population of 85,000, is one of eight volcanic isles in the Canary Islands off Africa's western coast.

More than 5,000 people have been evacuated so far but Spain's Civil Guard has warned that it may need to evacuate up to 10,000 residents.

The British government has released a statement advising those in the impacted area to "follow the advice of local authorities, including social media updates from Cabildo de La Palma."

They continue, adding: "If you are planning to travel to the island imminently you are encouraged to contact your tour operators and airlines."

Scientists had been monitoring the accumulation of lava below the mountain's surface for several days and had been alerted by a number of small earthquakes.

Plumes of smoke have been sent into the air with lava moving its way down the volcano's hillside.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has cancelled his trip to New York for the UN General Assembly so that he could travel to the Canary Islands to deal with the crisis.

The lava has reached a number of homes close to the mountain and authorities have warned that the lava flows could threaten the municipalities of El Paraiso, Alcala and surrounding areas.

One expert told local television station that, whilst it was too early to tell how long this eruption may last, previous eruptions on the islands have "lasted weeks or even months."

The last eruption in La Palma was half a century ago and lasted just over three weeks. The last eruption on the Canary Islands though occurred just a decade ago and lasted a staggering five months.

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Featured image IGN Spain/Involcan via Storyful