La Palma volcano: burning lava destroys at least 100 houses after hundreds evacuated

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Burning lava from a volcano on the Spanish Canary island of La Palma has destroyed at least 100 homes as it flows through villages towards the coast.

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About 500 of the 5,000 people who were evacuated from the path of molten lava flowing into rivers towards homes and hotels in the Cumbre Vieja National Park in the south of the island were tourists.

At least 100 homes in the village of El Paso, some of which are rental properties for tourists, have been hit by lava, officials said on Monday.


Video footage showed the Spanish Civil Guard evacuating people from their homes as the lava approached.

“It’s invincible, we can do absolutely nothing but follow-up so that there is no major damage,” El Paso mayor Sergio Rodriguez told Spanish state radio RNE.

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Stavros Meltellidis, a doctor of volcanology at the Spanish Geographical Institute, said the eruption left five holes in the hill and the situation could change at any time.

“Explosive dynamics can change in minutes,” he said.

The islands’ government said about 5,000 people were evacuated after an explosion in the sparsely populated Cabeja de Vaca area at 3:15 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Among those evacuated were about 500 tourists who were staying at a hotel in the village of Puerto Naos.

Video footage shows orange rivers of molten rock falling down hillsides, tearing grass through woods and fields, and spreading as they reach lower ground.

“It will not be a small eruption,” Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres told reporters on Monday.

In an earlier news conference on Sunday night, Mr Torres said 5,000 people had been evacuated and no injuries were reported so far.

He said the lava was moving towards the coast and the damage would be physical.

“According to experts, there is about 17-20 million cubic meters of lava,” he said.

Canary Islands-based local airline Binter said on Monday it had canceled four flights to and from the island of La Gomera, as ash and smoke were projected on the neighboring island of La Palma after a volcanic eruption.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who arrived in La Palma, the archipelago’s most northwestern island, was expected to meet those who had been evicted from their homes.

“We have all the resources (to deal with the blast) and all the soldiers, civilians can rest,” he said on Sunday night.

La Palma was on high alert after more than 22,000 aftershocks occurred in the span of a week at Cambre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes that last had a major eruption in 1971 and is one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canaries.

In 1971, one person was killed while taking photographs near a lava flow, but no property was damaged.

According to the Spanish National Geographical Institute, the earliest recorded eruption at La Palma occurred in 1430.


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