MADRID, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the La Palma island of Spain's Canary Islands erupted on Sunday afternoon.
The eruption began at around 3:20 p.m. local time. It had been expected after the island, which has a surface area of just over 700 square kilometers and a population of some 85,000, suffered "a swarm of" around 20,000 small earthquakes over the past week.
TV images broadcast by Spanish state TV network RTVE showed lavas and ashes shooting into the sky from four vents on the side of the volcano, provoking lava flows and causing fires in the surrounding woodland.
Local authorities had evacuated around 40 people with mobility issues from the area, along with farm animals.
The Canary Islands Health Service had made resources available to deal with the crisis. The Spanish Interior Ministry also said that 75 police and 130 Civil Guards were being detailed to patrol the area along with a helicopter.
There have been seven volcano eruptions on La Palma since records began, with the last taking place in 1971.