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Spain's PM Sanchez vows to rebuild La Palma as eruption gathers force

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By Reuters
Spain's PM Sanchez pledges 206 million euros for volcano-hit La Palma
Spain's PM Sanchez pledges 206 million euros for volcano-hit La Palma   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

LA PALMA -Red-hot lava exploded high into the air from La Palma’s volcano on Sunday night as the eruption gathered force, hours after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain would help rebuild the island, adding that it was safe for tourists to visit.

Local media reported the north side of the volcano had collapsed late on Sunday, causing a faster flow of lava.

Cadena Ser radio said the collapse had formed a new lava flow that was threatening several nearby towns.

“A clear increase in effusive activity has been observed in the last few minutes,” the Volcanology Institute of the Canary Islands, Involcan, said earlier on Twitter.

The volcano emitted a loud booming noise and lava exploded with force from its crater.

Making his third visit to La Palma, one of the Atlantic Canary Islands, since the eruption began on Sept. 19, Sanchez said earlier on Sunday that the government would approve 206 million euros ($239 million) of aid funding this week.

“Next Tuesday, the cabinet will approve a package of very powerful measures [to assist in] areas such as infrastructure reconstruction, water supply, employment, agriculture, tourism and benefits,” he told a news conference.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano has destroyed more than 900 buildings. About 6,000 people have been evacuated from homes on the island out of a population of some 83,000.

“We are facing a test of resistance … because we do not know when the eruption of the volcano will end,” Sanchez said.

“What residents should know is that when it does end, the government of Spain will be there to tackle the enormous task of rebuilding La Palma.”

The financial package is the second stage of a plan approved last week. The first stage saw the government announce aid of 10.5 million euros ($12.3 million) for the immediate assistance of those who had lost their homes.

Sanchez also encouraged tourists who were considering visiting La Palma not to be put off. Tourism is the Canary Islands’ major industry.

“I would like to let tourists know that this is a safe place, they can come and enjoy the island,” he said.

($1 = 0.8625 euros)