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La Palma volcano: What caused it to explode and how long could the eruption last? | World News

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A volcano that erupted on the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canary Islands is continuing to explode and spew out lava five days after it erupted.

Unstoppable lava flows have destroyed nearly 400 buildings on the western side of the volcanic island of 85,000 people and the authorities have warned of new dangers including toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain.

Where is the volcano in La Palma?

A map shows the location of the Cumbre Vieja eruption and the flow of lava
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A map shows the location of the Cumbre Vieja eruption and the flow of lava
LA PALMA Canary Islands  MAP
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A map of the volcanic activity on La Palma. Credit: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

The volcano erupted along the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge in La Palma, one of eight volcanic islands in Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago, which sit off the northwestern coast of Africa.

The Canary Islands are popular with European tourists and the nearby island of Tenerife has one of the world’s tallest volcanoes, Mount Teide.

La Palma island itself is made up of two main volcanic complexes: a large one to the north and a smaller one to the south, which erupted on Sunday. The island last saw an eruption in 1971.

How did scientists know the eruption was coming?

More on La Palma Volcano Eruption

Scientists had been monitoring a build-up of underground magma beneath La Palma for a week before the eruption and were able to warn of a possible eruption, allowing nearly 7,000 people to evacuate.

They had detected more than 20,000 earthquakes in an “earthquake swarm” which can indicate a coming eruption.

What caused the volcano to erupt?

Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows the eruption of a volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park, on the Canary Island of La Palma
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Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows the eruption of the volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park
Lava spews from the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma, Spain
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Lava spews from the Cumbre Vieja volcano

Three days before the volcano erupted, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute reported that 11 million cubic metres (388 million cubic feet) of molten rock had been pushed into the volcano.

Professor David Pyle, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford, told Sky News: “Magma is generated within Earth’s mantle and below La Palma that magma is probably being generated continuously at depths of 100km or so. Every now and then those magmas will collect and break through, pushing up into the shallow parts of the Earth’s crust.

“When the latest swarm of earthquakes started a week before the eruption began, scientists recognised they were happening at a shallower depth than they had seen in previous years.

“They were able to look at satellite images which showed deformation of the surface and they were very confident that from these they could recognise the movement of magma towards the surface.”

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Lava from the volcano is destroying and burying homes, leaving thousands devastated

A 4.2-magnitude earthquake was recorded before the eruption, which saw two fissures open up and bright red magma bubble up into the air.

How has the eruption developed?

Earthquakes have continued and a new fissure opened on Monday following a 3.8-magnitude quake. Scientists have warned that new lava vents and cracks could emerge, putting new areas at risk.

Lava covers more than 180 hectares on the island of La Palma and destroys 390 buildings
PIC:AP
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Lava erupts from the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge. Pic: AP

Prof Pyle said scientists will now be measuring the amount of gas escaping from the volcano, checking whether the composition of magma changes over time and measuring the quantity of material that is being expelled to see how quickly the volcano is erupting.

“With these they will be forming an expert judgement in terms of what the trajectory is looking like in terms of the eruption, whether it is waxing or waning,” he said.

“In this crisis they are deploying all the tools they can to try and work out what is changing during the eruption. And that will give them the clues in terms of whether or not to expect the activity to last for days, or weeks, or months.”

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Scientists say the volcanic eruption could continue until December

Officials in La Palma have recorded 1,130 tremors in the area over the past week as the volcano blasted molten lava into the air.

The explosions have propelled ash almost 15,000ft into the air, according to the Guardia Civil police force. Two rivers of lava have flowed slowly down the hillside, consuming houses, banana farms and infrastructure.

How long could the eruption last?

Residents look from a hill as the lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain
PIC:AP
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Residents look on from a hill as lava from the volcano flows. Pic: AP

Scientists are unclear about how long the eruption could last, with estimates ranging between weeks and even months.

The previous eruption in 1971 lasted for just over three weeks. The last eruption in the Canary Islands happened underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011 and lasted for five months.

Professor Mike Burton, a volcanologist at the University of Manchester, told Sky News that while scientists were able to predict the eruption, knowing how long it could last was “the tricky bit”.

Lava from a volcano eruption flows in El Paso, on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain, September 23, 2021.
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Lava has surrounded houses in El Paso

“It’s great that we can see when something like this is coming, but once it has started it is quite hard to be clear about how it is going to evolve.

“I think the best thing we can do is watch and look for signs of waxing and waning, increasing and decreasing activity.

“The last eruption went on for about three months, but every eruption is different. This one appears to have started with a higher lava eruption rate than the 1971 eruption, so already it seems to be more powerfully supplied.

“That might mean it goes on much longer, but you have to be cautious about making any deterministic predictions. We really need to wait and see what nature does.”

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COVID-19: Children as young as five to get vaccine within weeks, White House announces | US News

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Children aged five to 11 in the US will soon be able to get a COVID-19 jab, the White House has announced. 

Officials say the expected authorisation of the Pfizer vaccine for younger children in a matter of weeks will allow them to receive the shot at their paediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school.

Federal regulators will meet in the next two weeks to assess the benefits of giving COVID jabs to people in that age group, after lengthy studies intended to ensure the safety of the vaccines.

Within hours of formal approval, expected after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory meeting scheduled for 2-3 November, doses will start being shipped to providers across the country.

Smaller needles necessary for injecting younger children will also be sent out.

“We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids aged 5-11 are available, easy and convenient,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday.

The Biden administration noted the nationwide campaign to extend vaccination to the school-going cohort would not resemble the start of the country’s vaccine rollout 10 months ago, when scarcity of doses and capacity issues meant a painstaking wait for many Americans.

The country now has ample supplies of the Pfizer shot to vaccinate the roughly 28 million children who will soon be eligible, White House officials said, and work has been ongoing for months to ensure widespread availability of shots once approved.

More than 25,000 paediatricians and primary care providers have already signed on to administer COVID vaccine shots to children, the White House said, in addition to the tens of thousands of retail pharmacies that are already administering shots to adults.

Hundreds of school- and community-based clinics will also be funded and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help speed the vaccination process.

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US President Joe Biden has received his COVID booster jab – and told eligible Americans to theirs booked.

The White House is also preparing to roll out an intensified campaign to educate parents and young people about the safety of the shots and the ease of getting them.

“COVID has also disrupted our kids’ lives. It’s made school harder, it’s disrupted their ability to see friends and family, it’s made youth sports more challenging,” US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy told NBC.

“Getting our kids vaccinated, we have the prospect of protecting them, but also getting all of those activities back that are so important to our children.”

Dr Murthy said the administration, which is promoting employer vaccine mandates for adults, is leaving the question of requirements for schools to local and state officials, but described them as “reasonable”.

The administration says children who get their first shot within a couple weeks of the expected approval in early November will be fully vaccinated by Christmas

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Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro should face homicide charges over 95,000 COVID-19 deaths, draft report finds | World News

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Brazil’s president should face homicide charges over errors that led to an estimated 95,000 COVID-19 deaths, a draft of a major inquiry report has found.

With more than 600,000 deaths, only the US has lost more people to coronavirus than Brazil and the president has been widely criticised for openly objecting to lockdowns, regularly refusing to wear a mask in public and stating he has not been vaccinated.

And now, the senator leading a congressional probe into his handling of the pandemic has recommended Mr Bolsonaro be charged with homicide.

There have been a number of protests calling for the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro as a result of his handling of the COVID crisis in Brazil. Pic: AP
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There have been a number of protests calling for the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro as a result of his handling of the COVID crisis in Brazil. Pic: AP

A 1,200-page document, prepared over six months by opposition senator Renan Calheiros for a Senate commission that conducted the probe, alleges that Mr Bolsonaro failed to take the opportunity to acquire vaccines, when they were presented, leading to the deaths of thousands.

It says he was guided “by an unfounded belief in the theory of herd immunity by natural infection” and is “principally responsible for the government’s errors committed during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The president has been repeatedly criticised for pushing unproven remedies for the illness such as antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been dismissed by scientists as ineffective.

The report, in its final form, is expected to presented to the committee on Wednesday with a vote taking place next week.

If approved, it will be sent to the country’s chief prosecutor, who was appointed by Mr Bolsonaro, who will decide whether the president should be criminally charged.

But even if it then goes no further, analysts say the high-profile discussion about it could hurt the president in the upcoming election.

Mr Bolsonaro claims the probe is politically motivated and has denied responsibility for any deaths.

On Wednesday morning, the number of criminal charges the report recommends be brought against Mr Bolsonaro appeared to have been reduced to 11 from 13.

The charges include homicide, genocide, charlatanism and inciting crime.

Three of the seven opposition senators on the 11-person committee are understood to be opposed to including the homicide and genocide charges, AP reported.

The three were trying to persuade the four other opposition senators to join them in opposing the two charges, according to five of the senators AP spoke to anonymously.

The senate committee was formed in April to investigate allegations Mr Bolsonaro’s management of the pandemic caused a substantial proportion of Brazil’s deaths.

Brazilian congressional committees can investigate, but don’t have the power to indict.

There have been a number of protests calling for the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro as a result of his handling of the COVID crisis in Brazil. Pic: AP
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There have been a number of protests calling for the impeachment of Jair Bolsonaro as a result of his handling of the COVID crisis in Brazil. Pic: AP

The allegations are expected to be used by opponents of the far-right leader, whose approval ratings have slumped ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign, despite his still sizable internal support base.

The biggest row has been over Senator Calheiros’ determination to recommend that Mr Bolsonaro should be investigated by the International Criminal Court for possible genocide of indigenous peoples, as a substantial proportion of those who died were from the Amazon region.

But the committee members who oppose this, including critics of the government, say genocide is an exaggeration that could threaten the entire report’s credibility.

Political analyst Carlos Melo, from Insper University in Sao Paulo, said: “The prosecutor-general’s office will look with a magnifying glass for errors, failures and inconsistencies in order to wash their hands of it.

“If you have 10 accusations that are very strong, and one that has inconsistencies, that’s what the government will latch on to, to try and discredit the whole report.”

Senators on the committee have also been wary of calling for charges against members of Mr Bolsonaro’s family, who are named in the report, and the military.

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North Korea test-fires ‘new ballistic missile’ from submarine | World News

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North Korea has test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine, according to state media.

It confirms reports on Tuesday from South Korea that such a launch had taken place, with the missile landing in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea said the new SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) has “lots of advanced control guidance technologies” including “flank mobility and gliding skip mobility”.

The missile “will greatly contribute to putting the defence technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy”, according to the country’s KCNA media outlet.

It is the fifth round of missile tests for the totalitarian state since September, which last month included a launch from a train.

Pictures from Tuesday’s test appeared to show a smaller, thinner missile – which could mean more could be stored on one submarine, according to experts.

“It’s an interesting development but with only one submarine in the water that can launch notionally one or two of these it doesn’t change much,” said Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“North Korea’s goal is building more powerful SLBMs that can be fired from big submarines like the US does,” added Moon Keun-sik, from Kyonggi University in South Korea.

Diplomats said Britain and the US planned to raise the test at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, while the White House urged North Korea to refrain from further “provocations”.

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North Korea launches missile from train

America has imposed tough sanctions on the country but has said it remains open to restarting talks over its weapons programme.

North Korea has so far refused and says Washington must first abandon its “hostile policy”, referring to sanctions and US-South Korea military exercises.

The test also comes days before President Biden’s special envoy on North Korea is due in Seoul for talks on the possibility of restarting diplomacy with Pyongyang.

feb 2021
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a plenary meeting of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on February 12, 2021, by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).  KCNA/via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has rebuffed US offers to resume negotiations

Talks over its nuclear disarmament ground to a halt after Donald Trump’s second meeting with Kim Jong Un in 2019, when the former US president rejected a request for major sanctions relief.

South Korea, meanwhile, is accelerating its own weapons programme, which President Moon Jae-in said at a defence expo on Wednesday is aimed at achieving peace on the peninsula.

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