Volcano erupts on Spanish island of La Palma following 'earthquake swarm'

19 September 2021, 17:13 | Updated: 20 September 2021, 07:16

By Elizabeth Haigh

A volcano has erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma after a week of seismic activity.

The eruption on the Atlantic island of La Palma follows a series of earthquakes known as an "earthquake swarm".

The last time there was an eruption on the island's Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge was 1971.

Spanish state broadcaster TVE showed plumes of black and white smoke shooting up from a point on the ridge.

Meanwhile, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute reported the eruption and have issued advice on social media: "Follow the advice of the authorities and DO NOT GO near the site of the eruption."

Spanish geologists have been tracking the "earthquake swarm" around La Palma for the last week.

An earthquake swarm is a cluster of quakes in one area during a short period and can indicate an approaching eruption.

A 3.8-magnitude quake was recorded before the eruption, with vibrations from the seismic activity felt on the surface.

The eruption could be seen from miles out.
The eruption could be seen from miles out. Picture: Getty

Officials confirmed a huge column of smoke rose up after the eruption at 3:15pm local time (3.15pm BST) in the Cumbre Vieja national park in the south of the island.

Local authorities reportedly evacuated around 40 people with mobility problems and farm animals from the villages around the volcano shortly before it erupted.

Authorities are said to be accelerating evacuations of around 1,000 people.

Footage on social media shows plumes of smoke and ash billowing into the air, as well as sprays of orange lava.

There is also a risk of landslides and rockfalls on a stretch of the island's southwest coast.

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of eight islands in Spain's Canary Islands archipelago.

At their nearest point to Africa, they are 60 miles from Morocco.