Spain: La Palma volcanic explosions intensify after new vent opens, firefighters retreat

Firefighting crew and rescue personnel on the Spanish Island of La Palma have retreated due to intensifying volcanic explosions.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano started erupting on Sunday with thousands evacuated and more than 350 homes destroyed.

On Friday, authorities in three more towns told residents to evacuate.

A thick plume of smoke now extends four kilometres into the air with a number of flights in and out of the airport cancelled.

No fatalities have been reported.

Spanish media reported of a new vent opening up, causing more lava to flow.

A social media post from the La Palma fire service said firefighters have "withdrawn from the area due to the intensification of explosive phenomena".

The firefighters had been conducting preventative work in Todoque neighbourhood.

Some 1,000 people in Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and Tacande de Arriba were told to evacuate on Friday due to the intensifying volcanic activity.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Friday that the cabinet would next week declare the island a "catastrophe zone".

The Canary Islands government has already announced a first round of financial aid for people who have lost their homes.

The volcano lies in the south of La Palma island, which is home to around 80,000 people.

It last erupted 50 years ago, in 1971. Scientists are unsure how long this eruption will last.

The past eruptions on La Palma have lasted between 24 and 84 days.