Under close surveillance for days due to intense seismic activity, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma erupted on Sunday for the first time in 50 years.

"The eruption started in the area of ​​Cabeza de Vaca, in El Paso," the local government of the island (cabildo) indicated on its Twitter account, which has started to carry out evacuations in the most inhabited areas. near the volcano.

Under surveillance for several weeks

"The population is asked to exercise extreme caution and stay away from the eruption area to avoid any unnecessary risk," he continued.

"The volcano has erupted in a forest area," said the president of the Canary Islands region, Angel Victor Torres, calling for caution.

Large columns of smoke, ash and jets of lava were rising from the volcano, according to the first images broadcast live by Spanish public television around 4:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. GMT).

The Cumbre Vieja volcano had been under close surveillance for a week due to a huge surge in seismic activity.

Several thousand low-magnitude earthquakes, up to nearly 4 on the Richter scale, have been recorded since last Saturday by the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute.

Last eruption in 1971

Millions of cubic meters of magma had also moved inside the volcano while the ground had risen by about 10 centimeters in the area of ​​the volcano.

The authorities, who had told the population to be ready for several days, proceeded a few hours before the eruption to the evacuation of people with reduced mobility in the municipalities closest to the volcano, on this island located off the coast of the volcano. north-west Africa.

"All administrations are prepared to act in a coordinated manner," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez assured on his Twitter account.

The Interior Ministry said more than 200 members of the security forces had been mobilized with a helicopter.

The last eruption of Cumbre Vieja took place in 1971. Of volcanic origin, the Spanish Canary Islands had its last eruption in 2011, this time underwater, at the island of El Hierro.

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