More evacuations as lava pours from Canaries volcano

LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) – Lava pouring from the Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced authorities to evacuate another part of El Paso on the island of La Palma, the town’s mayor said on Tuesday.

Lava and smoke rise following the eruption of a volcano on the Island of La Palma, Spain September 20, 2021. Picture taken with drone. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

People from the neighbourhood of Tacande Alto were evacuated late Monday and early Tuesday after a new stream of lava started flowing from another crack on the slope of the Cumbre Viejo volcano, Sergio Rodriguez told TV station TVE on Tuesday.

“The lava on its path to the sea has been a bit capricious and has diverted from its course,” Rodriguez said.

About 6,000 of the 80,000 people living on the island have been forced to leave their homes to escape the eruption so far, TVE said.

The volcano started erupting on Sunday, shooting lava hundreds of metres into the air, engulfing forests and sending molten rock towards the ocean over a sparsely populated area of La Palma, the most northwestern island in the Canaries archipelago, which had been rocked by thousands of quakes in the prior days.

No fatalities or injuries have been reported, but drone footage captured two tongues of black lava cutting a devastating swathe through the landscape as they advanced down the volcano’s western flank towards the sea.

Experts say that if and when the lava reaches the sea, it could trigger more explosions and clouds of toxic gases. Marine authorities are keeping a two nautical mile area in the sea around the area closed as a precaution.

The lava flow was initially expected to reach the shore on Monday evening, but its speed has fallen 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.

Around 150 homes have been destroyed by the eruption, said the president of the island’s council Mariano Hernandez.

Emergency authorities have said residents should not fear for their safety if they follow recommendations.

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