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Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spanish Canary Islands

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LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) -A volcano erupted on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma on Sunday, sending fountains of lava and a plume of smoke and ash into the air from the Cumbre Vieja national park in the south of the island.

EPA-EFE/Miguel Calero

Authorities had already begun evacuating the infirm and some farm animals from the surrounding villages before the eruption, which took place in the Cabeza de Vaca in El Paso at 3:15 p.m. (1415 GMT), according to the Canary Islands government.

EPA-EFE/Miguel Calero

There had been more than 22,000 tremors this week in the area, one of the most active volcanoes in the Canary Islands.

Soldiers were deployed to help with the evacuation, the defence ministry said, and it is expected that more residents will be evacuated from surrounding towns.

Ahead of the eruption, scientists had recorded a series of earthquakes reaching 3.8 magnitude in the national park , according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING). 

The earliest recorded volcanic eruption in La Palma took place in 1430, according to the ING. In the last eruption in 1971, one man was killed when he took photographs near the lava flows but no property was damaged.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Photo ScreenShot from RTVC Twitter

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