Between 5,000 and 10,000 people are being evacuated after a volcano began erupting on the La Palma island of Spain's Canary Islands on Sunday afternoon.
Regional authorities confirmed that the evacuations have begun in the wake of the eruption, which began at 3:12 p.m. local time on the Cumbre Viejo volcano, Xinhua news agency reported.
The eruption came after a week in which over 20,000 earthquakes were measured on the La Palma island, the second youngest of the Canary Islands.
A quake of around 4 points on the Richter Scale announced the start of the eruption, with TV images capturing lava, smoke and ash being expelled from five fissures on the hillside, although by 10 p.m. lava was escaping from seven different apertures.
Although no casualties have been reported, several properties as well as woodland and pasture have been destroyed by the lava flow which is advancing towards the sea on the southwest coast of the island.
On Sunday evening, authorities began evacuating an estimated 5,000 people from the municipalities of El Paso, Tazacorte and Los Llanos de Aridane, in accordance with plans set up in the framework of the Canary Island Volcano Emergency Plan.
Meanwhile, residents have been advised to remain indoors, to close doors and windows to take care washing fruit and vegetables to avoid being affected by volcanic ash.
La Palma has a surface area of just over 700 square kms and a population of almost 85,000 people.
It has experienced seven recorded eruptions since records began. The last two eruptions took place respectively in 1949 and 1971, with the last of those lasting for 10 days.
Experts have predicted that the new eruption will continue for several days, but could last for weeks.
A few videos of the eruption are going viral on social media spreading havoc across the globe. Amidst the calamity, people are praying for those affected.
Here's how people are reacting. Have a look.
With inputs from IANS.