The volcanic eruption on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma has destroyed around 100 homes, large swathes of agricultural land, roads and businesses, officials said on Monday.
The towns of Tacande and El Paraiso have borne the brunt of the damage. According to local media, agricultural land, mostly dedicated to growing bananas, and other businesses like wineries and rural hotels have been gutted by the lava.
Around 5,500 people have been evacuated from the area and no deaths or injuries have been reported so far.
“All of Spain is with La Palma,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who canceled his trip to New York to travel to the Atlantic Island.
After days of increased seismic activity, the volcano erupted on Sunday for the first time since 1971. The Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to release lava, ash and smoke.
Experts suggest that the lava, which is traveling towards the sea at around 300 meters per hour, may continue to flow for weeks.
While local authorities warn people to stay away from the affected area, Spanish Tourism Minister María Reyes Maroto said the eruption presented a unique opportunity to see the “marvelous natural spectacle.”
The airport on the island remains functional and she said the government is letting tourists know that “the island is open.”
Her remarks have been met with hostility by many.
“This is not a marvelous spectacle or an exciting site to see, it’s a tragedy,” tweeted Ana Oramas, MP for the Canarias Coalition.
“Please be sensitive, the people of the Canary Islands aren’t in the mood for jokes," Oramas added./aa