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Volcano erupts on the Canary Island of La Palma, forcing evacuations

A volcano erupted Sunday near the southern end of the Canary Island of La Palma, sending lava down toward two villages.

There had been seismic activity in the week leading up to the eruption, and authorities had already started evacuating some residents and farm animals from the villages, Reuters reports. About two hours after the volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park erupted, more than 5,000 residents were ordered to evacuate from four villages.

Video recorded on Sunday night showed three rivers of lava flowing down the volcano, with one large stream crossing a street. The volcano last erupted in 1971, and resident Isabel Fuentes, 55, told TVE that anyone who lives through such an experience doesn't forget it. "When the volcano erupted today, I was scared," she said. "For journalists it is something spectacular, for us it is a tragedy. I think the lava has reached some relatives' houses."

No injuries have been reported so far, Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres said during a Sunday night press conference. "The lava is moving toward the coast and the damage will be material," he added. "According to experts there are about 17 to 20 million cubic meters of lava."