Thousands evacuated after Spanish volcano erupts

The Canary Islands are safe to visit and the volcanic eruption there is a "wonderful show," the Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto declared on Monday (September 20).

She said there were no restrictions on travel to the Islands.

But her comments have been criticized by an opposition party in light of the damage done.

More than 5000 people have been evacuated and about 100 homes destroyed in La Palma, according to authorities.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited affected areas on Monday.

"The most important thing right now is to ensure security, to guarantee the perimeter. We are still in the eruption phase, please, let's be extremely cautious, let's not approach, let's stay away."

No deaths have yet been reported.

Around 500 tourists were among those evacuated - some went to nearby Tenerife island, while others chose to return home.

"It was a sensation. It was horrible. We felt the earthquake. In the morning it started at about 6.30 and then we heard the eruptions the whole day and then at 3 in the afternoon the lady from the house came and said you have to pack everything, you have to leave quickly and then we tried to go to get a flight home and we are happy to go home now."

Officials are hopeful they will not need to evacuate anymore people.

But there was a warning from regional leader Angel Victor Torres that lava flowing from the volcano is due to reach the sea on Monday evening, which create a cloud of toxic gases and reduce visibility at sea.

Sunday's volcanic eruption was the first in half a century in the Canary Islands.

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