Disasters & Accidents

La Palma volcano lava flow close to reaching sea

Tazacorte, Spain, Sep 28 (EFE).- Lava spewing from a volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma was approaching the sea Tuesday with just a kilometer standing between the molten rock and the coast.

Sources from Tazacorte told Efe that lava flows were about to enter the coastal town after the new Cumbre Vieja volcano began spewing abundant quantities of lava once again on Monday evening after hours of relative calm.

Two active fissure vents, one in the main volcanic cone and another at the bottom, have been gushing flows of thick molten lava, according to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan).

The Spanish Department of National Security said that lava was flowing toward the sea in two different streams, one that is moving slowly from the southern coast, while the other is currently between 800-1,000 meters away from the northwestern coast of La Palma.

The volcano that became active on September 19 for the first time in 50 years has resulted in widespread destruction, evacuations and curfews.

Some 686 houses, as well as a total surface of 258 hectares (637 acres), have been devoured by lava flows so far, according to the latest calculations from the EU’s Copernicus Earth Monitoring Service.

La Palma’s residential towns of San Borondon, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa, closest to where the lava is expected to meet the sea, have been pre-emptively locked down since Sunday due to the danger of toxic gases being emitted, while residents of areas affected by ash fall were advised to stay indoors.

The airport on the Spanish island is operating but no planes took off on Monday.

Scientists at Involcan estimate that the eruption is spewing between 7,997 and 10,665 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere each day.

The surface temperature of the lava can reach highs of 1,113 C (2,035 F), and scientists have warned of toxic steam when it comes into contact with the ocean.

Since record-keeping began after the conquest of the Canaries in the 15th century, La Palma has been the site of seven of the 16 volcanic eruptions the Canary Island archipelago has experienced.EFE


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