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Hundreds more evacuated as La Palma volcano lava nears sea


Hundreds more evacuated as La Palma volcano lava nears sea
Canary Islands: Lava destroys homes on La Palma. (BBC)

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La Palma – An erupting volcano on La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands has forced authorities to evacuate another village in the path of lava gushing towards the sea.

The evacuation of El Paso was ordered after lava started spewing from a new crack in the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

More than 6 000 people have fled from lava that has buried hundreds of homes since the eruption began on Sunday.

Four earthquakes hit the island shortly after the new eruption vent opened.

Local officials said the lava could trigger a chemical reaction that causes explosions and the release of toxic gases when it reaches the sea.

Marine authorities have established an exclusion zone of two nautical miles (3.7km) at sea, in the area where the lava is heading.

This was done “to prevent onlookers on boats and prevent the gases from affecting people”, the president of the island’s council, Mariano Hernández, said.

Experts told local media the lava is expected to reach the sea on Tuesday. Residents have been told to stay away from the area, which has been cordoned off by police.

By Tuesday afternoon, the largest lava flow had entered the town of Todoque, travelling at about 200 metres per hour (0.07 mph), authorities said. Families raced to save what they could from their homes in a two-hour window granted by emergency workers.

Regional leader Ángel Víctor Torres said emergency services were powerless to stop the lava’s “inexorable” advance to the sea.

In the meantime, the lava continues to spill down the volcano’s western flank, destroying everything in its path.

Earlier, the EU’s Copernicus service estimated that the lava had covered 103 hectares (1 sq km) and destroyed 166 houses. A satellite image showed the lava’s path down the mountain. (BBC)