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How has the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez responded to the volcanic eruption in La Palma?

The disaster has forced more than 5,000 people to evacuate and Prime Minister Sánchez has flown to the Canary Islands to coordinate help.

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How has the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez responded to the volcanic eruption in La Palma?
Ramón de la Rocha EFE

What has Pedro Sánchez said?

The prime minister postponed his departure to the UN General Assembly in order to discuss the emergency response with the president of the Canary Islands. Spain has a system similar to the US with a central government but many states with high levels of autonomy.

Sánchez hosted a press conference on Sunday night where he explained the situation.

"The safety of the citizens of La Palma is of the utmost importance. For a week we have made an anticipation on how to act at the time of the eruption."

"I wanted to make a mention of the contribution of science, because thanks to that we could anticipate events. It has been thanks to the accuracy of science."

"Enough troops have been deployed to face any type of contingencies. We are awaiting the fires. The Civil Guard, Police, Firefighters, Red Cross are going to be deployed ... and the Military Emergency Unit is also being added."

"We have all the resources and all the troops, citizens can rest easy," he said.

On his Twitter account, Sánchez added, "I want to express my affection to people of the island due to the circumstances they are experiencing. We will continue working to protect citizens and repair the damage caused".

What happened in La Palma?

The eruption began at 3.15pm local time on Sunday 19 September, with smoke and rock being spewed forth from the maw of the volcano. Five fissures in the rock face split open with lava inside, dribbling its way down the hillside. Dozens of homes are destroyed as the lava continues its relentless march down hillsides and into towns. The last time the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted was 1971 but after more than 22,000 tremors were felt this week a new eruption was inevitable.

Videos on the internet have shown rocks and lava coming into people's homes. So far dozens have been destroyed and it is likely more will be as the is no timeframe for when the lava will stop pouring.

Due to scientific analysis, the population was prepared for evacuation with the help of the Guardia Civil, Spain's national guard. So far 5,000 people have been evacuated and authorities are not expecting to be needing to evacuate anymore.

Pedro Sánchez visited the island today to assess the damage caused.

La Palma volcano eruption: live updates

For the latest news on the volcano eruption on the island of La Palma and it's knock-on effects, follow our dedicated live blog here.