Lava gushing from the Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced authorities to evacuate another part of the municipality of El Paso on the island of La Palma and urge tourists drawn to the phenomenon to stay away from it. ‘difference.
Residents of the Tacande Alto neighborhood were evacuated late Monday and early Tuesday after a new flow of lava began to flow from another crack on the slope of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, El Paso Mayor Sergio said. Rodriguez, on the public television channel TVE.
“The lava on its way to the sea was a bit finicky and turned its course,” Rodriguez said.
So far, around 6,000 of the 80,000 people living on the island have been forced to leave their homes to escape the eruption, TVE said.
The volcano began to erupt on Sunday after La Palma, the most northwestern island in the Canary archipelago, was rocked by thousands of earthquakes in the previous days. It threw lava hundreds of meters into the air, engulfed forests, and sent molten rock toward the ocean above a sparsely populated area of La Palma.
No deaths or injuries were reported, but drone footage captured two tongues of black lava cutting a devastating swath across the landscape as they moved up the volcano’s western flank towards the sea.
Experts say if and when lava hits the sea, it could trigger more explosions and clouds of toxic gases.
Maritime authorities maintain a zone of two nautical miles in the sea around the closed area as a precaution “to keep bystanders on the boats and prevent gas from affecting people,” said council chief Mariano Hernandez , at the Cadena SER radio station.
He urged those drawn to the phenomenon to refrain from approaching to avoid a road collapse that partly hampered Monday’s evacuation, Hernandez said.
The lava flow was originally supposed to reach shore on Monday evening, but its speed has slowed in recent hours.
A Reuters witness saw the flow of molten rock slowly engulf a house in the village of Los Campitos, igniting the interior and sending flames through the windows and onto the roof.
As of Tuesday morning, lava had covered 103 hectares and destroyed 166 homes, according to data released by the European Union’s Copernicus emergency management service.
Emergency authorities said residents should not fear for their safety if they follow the recommendations.
Regional President Angel Victor Torres said the Cumbre Vieja volcano could contain 17 to 20 million cubic meters of magma.
According to Nemesio Perez, scientific coordinator at the Institute of Volcanology of the Canaries (Involcan), the volcanic activity could last “several weeks or even a few months”, due to a second pocket of magma 20 or 30 kilometers deep.
The last eruption in the Canary Islands was underwater and dates from 2011.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)