Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands

Lava and smoke are seen followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
1/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsLava and smoke are seen followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
2/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsA plume of smoke rises followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
3/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsA plume of smoke rises followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
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4/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsLava and smoke are seen followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
5/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsVolcano erupts on Spanish island of La Palma
6/6Lava shoots up from volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary IslandsPolice and civil guard members stand by as authorities on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma are on alert for volcanic eruption, in La Palma
Lava and smoke are seen followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
A plume of smoke rises followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
A plume of smoke rises followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
Lava and smoke are seen followng the eruption of a volcano in Spain
Volcano erupts on Spanish island of La Palma
Police and civil guard members stand by as authorities on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma are on alert for volcanic eruption, in La Palma

By Borja Suarez

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

Authorities had begun evacuating the infirm and some farm animals from the surrounding villages before the eruption at 3:15 p.m. (1415 GMT) on a wooded slope in the sparsely populated Cabeza de Vaca area, according to the islands' government.

Immediately after the eruption, the municipality urged residents in a statement to “exercise extreme caution”, and stay away from the area and off the roads.

The population of nearby villages were told to go to one of five centres to be evacuated and soldiers were deployed to help.

Spanish television (TVE) showed fountains of lava shooting into the sky and plumes of smoke could be seen from across the island.

Stavros Meletlidis, a doctor of volcanology at the Spanish Geographical Institute, said the eruption had opened up five fissures in the hillside and that he could not be sure how long the eruption would last.

“We have to measure the lava every day and that will help us to work it out.”

Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres told TVE that no injuries had been reported so far.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted that he had postponed his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York and was on his way to La Palma.

Flights to and from the Canaries were continuing as normal, the airport operator Aena said.

La Palma had been on high alert after more than 22,000 tremors were reported in the space of a week in Cumbre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes that last had a major eruption in 1971 and is one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canaries.

The earliest recorded eruption in La Palma was in 1430, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING).

In 1971, one man was killed as he was taking photographs near the lava flows, but no property was damaged.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley and Borja Suarez; Writing by Toby Chopra and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Gareth Jones and David Clarke)

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