Warnings of explosions and toxic gas as lava oozes through La Palma streets

21 September 2021, 15:34

By Daisy Stephens

Scientists have warned of explosions and the release of toxic gas as unstoppable rivers of lava roll through the streets of the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma.

Videos show lava flowing through the streets of the island after the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Sunday.

The lava is expected to reach the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, where it could explode and produce clouds of poisonous fumes.

The Spanish island has also been rocked by more earthquakes, one of which blew open a new vent on the volcano 3,000 feet north of the original eruption site.

Read more: Volcano erupts on Spanish island of La Palma following 'earthquake swarm'

The UK Foreign Office has issued updated travel advice in response to the eruption, advising people to follow the advice of local authorities and to get in touch with airlines and tour operators to check the status of 'imminent' trips.

"On Sunday 19 September 2021, at approximately 15.15 local time, there was a volcanic eruption on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma," the advice reads.

"The immediate areas of Los Llanos de Aridane, Tazacorte and El Paso (including Cabeza de Vaca) have been evacuated.

"If you are in an affected area you should follow the advice of local authorities, including social media updates from Cabildo de La Palma.

"If you are planning to travel to the island imminently you are encouraged to contact your tour operators / airlines."

So far 166 buildings have been destroyed by unstoppable walls of lava rolling down the mountainside
So far 166 buildings have been destroyed by unstoppable walls of lava rolling down the mountainside. Picture: Alamy Live News

By Tuesday the lava from the volcano had covered about 260 acres of terrain and destroyed a total of 166 buildings, including homes, according to Copernicus, the EU's Earth Observation Programme.

Some of the walls of lava were up to 20 feet high and were more than 1000C, burning and crushing anything in their path.

Scientists say the lava flows could last for weeks or months.

The volcano began erupting on Sunday
The volcano began erupting on Sunday. Picture: Alamy

La Palma, with a population of some 85,000 people, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands.

A so-called "earthquake swarm" warned authorities of the volcano's imminent eruption, giving them the chance to evacuate more than 5,000 people, avoiding any casualties so far.