Emergency Crews Mobilized After Volcano Erupts on Spanish Island

A volcano erupted on La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, on Sunday, September 19, after seismologists recorded a series of tremors over several days, the strongest of which was measured at magnitude of 4.2 earlier on Sunday.

The eruption at the Cumbre Vieja volcano was reported around 3:30 pm local time and sent smoke and lava spewing out of several fissures. Multiple government agencies responded, including the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan), the local council, civil protection units, firefighters and police.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 people were expected to be evacuated from areas near the volcano, police said.

The Spanish government also called up support from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) on the neighboring islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. This footage shows UME crews in Tenerife boarding a ferry bound for La Palma.

The government said more than 126 troops, along with multiple firefighting vehicles, would have arrived on La Palma on Monday.

The increase in seismic activity through the week had been closely monitored by Involcan, which earlier on Sunday said the “current seismic swarm represents a significant change in the activity of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.” On Friday, Involcan said it had at times recorded more than 400 earthquakes in a single hour; on Saturday, the agency reported a nine-day total of more than 25,000 earthquakes.

Authorities warned residents of the increased risk, and in the hours before the eruption announced the temporary closure of public recreational spots and precautionary evacuations of people with disabilities from several areas. Credit: @UMEgob via Storyful