Lava spread raises fears of more damage on Spanish island

23 September 2021, 21:44

Spain Volcano
Spain Volcano. Picture: PA

As it slowed, the lava grew thicker and in places rose up to 50 feet high, authorities said.

The advance of lava from a volcanic eruption in Spain’s Canary Islands has slowed significantly, raising doubts about whether it will fan out across the land and destroy more homes instead of flowing into the sea.

A giant river of lava slowed to 13 feet per hour after reaching a plain on Wednesday. On Monday, a day after the eruption on the island of La Palma, it was moving at 2,300 feet per hour.

As it slowed, the lava grew thicker. In places, it rose up to 50 feet high, authorities said. The lava now covers 410 acres and has swallowed around 350 homes.

Spain Volcano
Thousands of people have been evacuated (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The lava’s slowing pace bought time for more residents of towns in its path to grab belongings, with the Guardia Civil police force escorting them to their homes in Todoque, close to the coast, on Thursday morning.

The Guardia Civil said seismic activity in the area, which surged before the eruption and has remained strong, has stabilised.

Molten lava, ash and smoke continued to pour from the volcano’s mouth, shooting up to nearly 14,000 feet high, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said. That raised concerns about whether airspace above the island could remain open.

ENAIRE, which manages Spain’s airspace, said two areas above the affected area are being declared no-fly zones to allow emergency services to operate freely. Some flights into and out of La Palma were delayed early on Thursday.

Spain Volcano
Lava from a volcanic eruption flows on the island (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The Emergency Military Unit deployed on the island said the readings it has taken of the air found no threat to health.

Authorities have not reported any casualties from the eruption, although damage to property, infrastructure and farmland is expected to be significant.

Scientists were monitoring the volcano and had warned of a possible eruption. That allowed almost 7,000 people to be evacuated in time.

Officials had initially expressed fears about what would happen when the lava reached the Atlantic Ocean. The lava, whose temperature exceeds 1,000C (more than 1,800F), could cause explosions, trigger landslides and produce clouds of toxic gas when it hits the ocean, experts say.

Spain Volcano
Many homes have been destroyed (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Joel Francisco, 38, said he and his elderly parents had to evacuate the area around the village of Todoque in a rush, taking only a few belongings and important documents.

Now that the flow seems to have slowed, he hopes to go back and retrieve some more things in case the house is entombed in lava — if police let him.

“We don’t know how long we have to wait until we can return to our homes because the roads are closed,” he told The Associated Press. “Some people have it worse off, their houses are gone.”

Spain Volcano
Police officers and municipal workers look as lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Like many on the island, Francisco works on a banana plantation, and his livelihood is also at risk of being ruined by lava or damaged by volcanic ash.

“We are waiting to see if we can go out to work or not,” he said. “It affects everything in our life. This changed our life.”

The eruption and its aftermath could last for up to almost three months, according to the Volcanology Institute.

Spain’s king and queen, and the Spanish prime minister, are due to visit the affected area.

Life on the rest of La Palma, which is roughly 22 miles long and 12 miles wide at its broadest point, has been largely unaffected, with undeterred tourists landing for previously scheduled holidays.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Earthshot 2021

Revealed: List of winners awarded £1million by Duke of Cambridge for Earthshot Prize 2021

Millionaire Robert Durst is believed to have killed three people.

Millionaire murderer on ventilator with Covid days after sentencing

Former PM Gordon Brown wants to send over a billion vaccines to low-income countries

Gordon Brown calls for emergency vaccine airlift to poorer nations

The US has "no idea" how the Chinese managed to make such progress on hypersonic missiles

China fires hypersonic missile around globe before striking target

A British Airways plane takes off as the resumption of UK – US flights was confirmed

UK – US flights to resume from 8 November after 19-month ban

Officers arrested the suspect after 30 minutes

Norway bow and arrow attack 'appears to be act of terror' as five killed

Police in Florida arrested the man on Tuesday

Man arrested after toddler found gun and shot mother dead during work Zoom call

Police officers cordon off the scene in Kongsberg

Five people killed after man goes on bow and arrow rampage in Norwegian town

Billy Hood has been jailed for 25 years

London football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai over cannabis oil found in car

Blue Origin Launch.

Lift off! William Shatner soars into orbit on Blue Origin rocket

William Shatner take part in New Shepard spacecraft crew

Watch: William Shatner blasts off into space

Pen Farthing had staff and animals from his charity Nowzad evacuated from Afghanistan

Pen Farthing talks of 'total relief' as charity staff are flown into UK

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's latest comic book.

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's new comic book series

The northern flank of the volcano collapsed over the weekend, triggering new lava flows.

La Palma volcano partially collapses, spewing 'explosive bombs' of molten rock

Fuel stations and power plants in Lebanon have been forced to close.

Energy crisis: Warnings of blackouts in India and China and gas prices soar in Europe

Gerald Darmanin said "not one euro has been paid" of the promised £54m the UK promised to France to help prevent migrant crossings

'Not one euro paid' of money promised to France to tackle migrant crossings - minister