Spain vows to speed up aid to volcano-hit La Palma


People watch as Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava and smoke while it continues to erupt, as seen from Tajuya, on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain, October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Susana Vera

LA PALMA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain would speed up aid to the hard-hit agriculture and fishing industries on the island of La Palma, where part of the volcano's cone collapsed on Saturday and red hot lava continued to flow over a month after the eruption began.

Lava has covered almost 900 hectares of land, destroying over 2,000 buildings and many banana plantations. More than 7,000 people have had to leave their homes since the eruption started on Sept. 19.

"At the cabinet meeting next Tuesday we are going to make a budgetary modification to accelerate the arrival of economic resources for both the Employment Plan and aid for the entire agriculture and fishing sector," Sanchez said at a press conference during his fifth visit to the island since the eruption began.

In early October, Sanchez announced 206 million euro ($239 million) in government funding for the island to rebuild infrastructure and boost employment, agriculture and tourism. [L1N2QZ06F]

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said that part of the main cone had collapsed on Saturday morning. It tweeted footage of dark ash clouds billowing from the volcano.

Reuters footage showed lava engulfing buildings and a dog who appeared to have had a narrow escape after running away from the fast-moving flow.

The eruption has been devastating some of the island's banana crops, which account for around half its economic output. [L8N2QQ2J0]

Sanchez paid tribute to all those working to tackle the eruption, which has caused no deaths.

(Reporting by Antony Paone; Writing by Jessica Jones; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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