The Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced the evacuation of about 5,000 people, including around 500 tourists, and destroyed about 100 houses, officials said on Monday. The volcano erupted on Sunday, shooting lava hundreds of metres into the air, engulfing houses and forests, and sending molten rock towards the Atlantic Ocean over a sparsely populated area of La Palma, the most northwestern island in the Canaries archipelago.
Devastating wildfires have spread across parts of southern Europe, tearing through the Spanish and Greek countryside and forcing around 1,000 people from their homes on the Italian island of Sardinia. Sardinia’s local government declared a state of emergency on Sunday, due to what it described as a “disaster without precedence.” Over recent days, the region deployed 7,500 people and over 20 aircraft to fight the fires.
A sudden influx of migrants swimming into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Africa is a serious crisis for Europe, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday, vowing to re-establish order promptly amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Morocco. Spain deployed troops to Ceuta to patrol the border with Morocco after around 8,000 migrants, many from Sub-Saharan Africa and including 1,500 minors, entered the enclave on Monday and Tuesday by swimming in or climbing over the fence.
At least 6,000 migrants have reached Spain’s Ceuta enclave from neighbouring Morocco, a record number over a single day, Spanish officials say. They say the migrants – who include about 1,500 minors – either swam around the border fences that jut out into the sea or walked across at low tide. They are said to be mostly from Morocco. Spain says it has already sent some 2,700 back – but not the minors.
More than two thirds of Spain’s 47 million people will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-August, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday. “We are on track for herd immunity: 33 million compatriots will be vaccinated by mid-August”, he said, using the term for when most of a population is immune to an infectious disease. A growing number of people over 60-years-old are now getting their second shot.
The European Parliament has voted to waive the immunity of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist MEPs. The politicians left Spain in 2017 following a failed independence referendum, which Madrid said was illegal. The vote left the country facing its deepest political crisis in decades. The decision could help Spain’s bid to extradite the separatists, who have been charged with sedition.
Riot police have entered a university in the north-eastern Spanish city of Lleida and arrested a rapper who had barricaded himself inside the building to avoid serving a prison sentence. In 2018, Pablo Hasél, was given a two-year jail sentence and a fine €30,000 after Spain’s highest criminal court ruled that his lyrics and comments went beyond the limits of free speech and were instead expressions of “hatred and attacks on honor”.
Separatist parties won enough seats on Sunday in Catalonia’s regional parliament to strengthen their majority, although a strong showing for the local branch of Spain’s ruling Socialists pointed to a dialogue, rather than breakup, with Madrid. With over 99% of ballots counted, separatists won 50.9% of the vote, surpassing the 50% threshold for the first time. The final outcome is unlikely to lead to any repeat of the declaration of independence from Spain that took place in 2017.
Spain hopes to welcome tourists starting in “late June,” according to the country’s transportation minister. The government last week introduced a 14-day quarantine period for visitors entering the country, saying it was necessary to avoid a second peak of COVID-19 infections. José Luis Ábalos now says the two-week quarantine will be phased out and travel restrictions will be gradually lifted.
Spain’s King Felipe VI has renounced his personal inheritance from his father and stripped the former king Juan Carlos of his annual stipend after it was alleged that Felipe VI was poised to receive millions of euros from a secret offshore fund with ties to Saudi Arabia. The former head of state abdicated in 2014, after a series of scandals sent his popularity plummeting.