Volcano erupts on Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean

Spanish scientists said on Sunday that the volcano on the Atlantic island of La Palma began to erupt after a week of seismic activity.

Spanish public television channel TVE shows plumes of black and white smoke rising from a point on the volcanic ridge of Cumbre Vieja on the island.

The Canary Islands Institute of Volcanology reported the eruption.

Spanish authorities began evacuating people with reduced mobility to the Atlantic island of La Palma on Sunday, as experts warned of stronger earthquakes and the lingering threat of a volcanic eruption.

While government experts have said an eruption is not yet imminent, there has been an intensification of earthquakes near the surface of the island, which belongs to the Canary Islands archipelago.

Authorities have ordered the evacuation of residents with reduced mobility from villages near the center of seismic activity as a preventive measure. Some will be accommodated in a military outpost on the island.

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake was recorded on Sunday as vibrations from seismic activity were felt at the surface.

The scientific committee of the volcanic risk prevention plan said stronger earthquakes “are likely to be felt and can cause damage to buildings.” The scientific expert committee also reported the risk of rockfall on part of the southwest coast of the island.

Emergency services have been ordered to prepare to evacuate around 1,000 people if necessary, authorities said.

La Palma was on alert this week after geologists reported a buildup of molten rock beneath Cumbre Vieja, a dormant volcanic ridge near the island’s southern tip. Its last eruption was in 1971.

Volcano warnings are announced based on risk level, ranging from green, yellow, orange, and red. The current yellow level requires residents in risk areas to be ready to evacuate. Residents are also encouraged to report any sightings of gas, ash, water level changes or minor shaking to emergency services.

Spanish geologists have been following for a week the accumulation of a “swarm of earthquakes” around La Palma. An earthquake swarm is a group of earthquakes in an area for a short time and can indicate an impending eruption.

Before a volcano erupts, there is a gradual increase in seismic activity which can build up over an extended period.

La Palma, with a population of 85,000, is one of the eight islands of the Canary archipelago. At their closest point to Africa, they are 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Morocco.

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