The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) tweeted news of the eruption at 3:24 p.m. local time (10:24 a.m. ET) and urged members of the public to stay away from the area.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has postponed his departure to New York for the UN General Assembly in order to travel to La Palma because of the volcanic eruption.
“I am at the moment heading to the Canary Islands because of the seismic evolution, to see first-hand the situation in La Palma, the coordination of the means and the protocols that have been activated,” Sánchez tweeted Sunday.
The head of the local government Angel Torres called the first images of the eruption “impressive.”
Torres tweeted that he would be at the Head Committee for Civil Protection and Attention for Volcanic Risk Emergencies to assess the situation in the afternoon.
The island was on alert for a possible volcanic eruption after several earthquakes were felt over the weekend.
Earlier in the day, the volcanology institute wrote in a statement on Facebook that more than 25,000 earthquakes had been detected in the past nine days around the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
The highest magnitude registered was an earthquake of 4.2 on the Richter Scale on Sunday.
People with disabilities had already been evacuated from certain areas around the volcano and hiking trails and pathways had been closed off as a precaution.
“We call on people to exercise extreme caution and to stay away from the eruption area in order to avoid unnecessary risks,” the local government tweeted on Sunday. “Likewise, it is very important to keep roads clear so that they can be used by our land operatives.”
Volcano erupts on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands