The volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, which erupted three weeks ago, disrupting the lives of thousands of people, continues to release endless streams of lava with no signs of stopping.
On Sunday, authorities detected a new stream of molten rock that further destroyed more than 1,100 buildings. Anything in the lava path has been destroyed – homes, farms, swimming pools, industrial buildings in the largely agricultural area.
The collapse of part of a volcanic cone on Saturday sent a flood of bright red lava flowing from the Cumbre Vieja mountain range that initially opened on September 19.
The fast-flowing current carried huge chunks of lava that had already solidified, and soon flooded the industrial area.
“We cannot say that we expect that the eruption that started 21 days ago will end any time soon,” said Julio Perez, Canary Islands’ regional security minister.
La Palma is part of the Spanish Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off northwest Africa whose economy is based on Canary plantain cultivation and tourism.
About 6,000 residents were evacuated immediately after the initial eruption, and the new rivers of lava did not force the evacuation of more residents because they reside within the exclusion zone established by the authorities.
Government experts estimate that the largest lava flows measure approximately one mile (1.5 kilometers) at their widest point, while new land deltas that are being formed as the lava flows into the Atlantic Ocean have reached 84 acres (34 hectares).
The scientific committee advising the government said that if the delta continues to grow outward into the sea, parts of it could explode. Commission spokeswoman Jose Maria Blanco said this would generate explosions, gas emissions and large waves, but should not pose a danger to those outside the restricted area.
The tourism industry in the Canary Islands has been hit hard by the pandemic, and officials have been urging tourists not to stay away.
“This volcanic eruption affected part of the island, but La Palma is still a safe place and can offer a lot to those who visit,” said Mariano Hernandez, the island’s chief official.
The last eruption of La Palma volcano 50 years ago lasted just over three weeks. The last underwater volcanic eruption in all of the Canary Islands occurred off the coast of El Hierro Island in 2011 and lasted five months.
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