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Thousands evacuated as volcano erupts on Spain’s La Palma island

<i>Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A river of lava flowing from the volcano approaches houses on Spain's La Palma island on Sunday.
AFP via Getty Images
Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images
A river of lava flowing from the volcano approaches houses on Spain's La Palma island on Sunday.

By Al Goodman, Vasco Cotovio, Martin Goillandeau and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma island is continuing to expel molten lava and ash after erupting on Sunday and is likely to do so for days, the president of the Canary Islands regional government warned Monday.

Angel Victor Torres added in a post on Twitter that there had been no reports of injuries or deaths so far.

The Canary Islands emergency services tweeted late Sunday that 5,000 people had been evacuated from the area nearest to the eruption.

That figure included 400 tourists evacuated from a hotel on La Palma and taken to a hotel on the nearby island of Tenerife, Torres told Spanish radio station SER in an interview.

After a night of spectacular images of the lava illuminating the island’s countryside, Torres told SER that experts believe there is still just one point of eruption from the volcano, near a “lightly populated” part of the island, which has a population of about 80,000 people.

Footage from the island showed at least one highway cut by a wall of lava; local officials said some houses had been damaged.

Officials have warned local residents to keep their distance from the eruption.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed solidarity with the people of La Palma in a Twitter post on Monday. She added that “we are in contact with Spanish authorities to offer any additional aid that is needed.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has remained on La Palma, one of the smaller islands in the Canary Islands archipelago off the Atlantic coast of Morocco, after rushing there on Sunday.

After delaying his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Sanchez and other officials on Monday toured an evacuation center. He was later due to get a closer look at the volcano and its destruction.

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) wrote in a statement on Facebook on Sunday that more than 25,000 earthquakes had been detected in the previous nine days around the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

Spanish news reports said the last major eruption from the volcano was 50 years ago.

The regional president said some 400 firefighting personnel were in place to battle any fires caused by the lava flows.

Spain’s Ministry of Transport tweeted that it had prohibited ships from sailing too close to the volcano, because of the risks posed by lava flowing into the sea.

The Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination for British, German and other European visitors.

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CNN’s Al Goodman reported from in Madrid with Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon as well as Martin Goillandeau and Jeevan Ravindran in London.

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