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Lava spews as Canary Islands volcano erupts

Authorities had begun evacuating the infirm and some farm animals from nearby villages before the eruption at 1515 local time (1415 GMT) on a wooded slope in the sparsely populated Cabeza de Vaca area, according to the islands' government.

Two hours later, with lava edging down the hillside from five fissures torn into the hillside, the municipality ordered the evacuation of four villages, including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.

After nightfall, video footage showed fountains of lava shooting hundreds of metres into the sky, and at least three incandescent orange rivers of molten rock pouring down the hill, tearing gashes into woods and farmland, and spreading as they reached lower ground.

One stream, several hundred metres long and tens of metres wide, crossed a road and began engulfing scattered houses in El Paso.

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