Giant lava rivers They were moving slowly but relentlessly towards the sea on Monday after a volcano erupted on a Spanish island, destroying everything in its path. So far no victims have been reported after the authorities evacuated about 5,000 people on time.
The eruption began on Sunday on the island of The Palm, part of the archipelago of the Canary Islands and located in a volcanic mountain range called Cumbre Vieja, where two fissures expelled bright red magma and set rivers of incandescent lava in motion.
Scientists have been monitoring the area in recent days due to a sudden increase in earthquakes, mostly small ones.
On Monday, lava flowed into the sea on the island of La Palma at about 700 meters per hour, according to the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands. The rash could last for weeks or months, experts say.
Two streams were advancing through a barely populated area, the regional president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, explained to the SER radio station. About 100 houses were destroyed, reported authorities.
“It is not foreseeable that there will be a new eruption zone,” Torres said, adding that air traffic in the area had not been affected. “There will be significant material damage, we hope there will be no personal (damage).”
There were no further evacuations planned, according to authorities, who advised people in areas where volcanic ash was falling to stay indoors with doors and windows closed.
Nemesio Pérez, scientific coordinator of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands, told SER that the eruption was unlikely to kill, although the lava “will sweep away everything where it passes.”
The eruption opened two fissures about 200 meters (650 feet) apart. The streams were likely to come together before reaching the sea, according to authorities.
The lava reached the town of Los Llanos de Aridane, near the volcano. The houses on the way to the coast had been evacuated, said the mayor, Noelia García.
Mariano Hernández, president of the Cabildo de La Palma, described the situation in the affected area as “devastating”, on an island that lives mainly from agriculture.
“A lava flow with an average height of six meters literally eats houses, infrastructure, crops that it finds on its way to the coast of the Aridane valley,” he explained to the state news agency. Efe.
The Military Emergency Unit increased its deployment on the island to 180 soldiers and 57 vehicles, backed by three aircraft to dump water that were expected to arrive later Monday.
Daniel Álvarez, owner of a bar in Las Manchas, one of the towns closest to the volcano, was evacuated with his family on Sunday and was staying at the El Fuerte military barracks with 300 other evacuees.
“We saw the explosion live,” said Álvarez, who said he did not know if the lava had consumed his house. “If it is not saved, start from scratch, we are young and we can start again,” he added.
The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, visited the affected area on Monday after canceling his trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. He praised the scientists for monitoring the eruption, saying their work was instrumental in avoiding casualties, and vowing that his government would help local people rebuild their lives.
The Canary Islands Volcanological Institute reported a first eruption on Sunday shortly after 3:00 p.m. near the southern tip of the island, where the last eruption had occurred in 1971.
Fissures in the Cumbre Vieja volcanic mountain range expelled red lava and clouds of black and white smoke. Scientists had turned their attention to the area for the past few days due to the accumulation of magma below the surface and a succession of small earthquakes.
Most of the evacuees took shelter with family and friends, according to authorities. The rest went to shelters.
La Palma, where 85,000 people live, is one of the eight volcanic islands of the Canary archipelago. At their easternmost point, the islands are 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Morocco. Before the eruption, a 4.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded in the area known as Cabeza de Vaca, on the western slope of the mountain range.
Hernández called on people to stay away from the eruption. “To all the people (I ask) not to approach the area of the volcanic eruption in the area where the lava is advancing,” warned the president of the Cabildo de La Palma. “We are having serious problems with the collapse of the roads because there are many people who are trying to get close to see it and it is causing problems in the eviction of people.
Although it is too early to know how long this eruption will last, previous episodes in the Canary Islands continued for weeks or even months, said Itahiza Dominguez, head of seismology at the National Institute of Geology, in statements to Televisión Canaria.
The last eruption on La Palma, 50 years ago, lasted just over three weeks. The last eruption of the archipelago so far had occurred underwater off the coast of the island of El Hierro, in 2011. It lasted five months.