Three more towns evacuated on Canary Island as volcanic eruption intensifies

Explosions from eruption on La Palma hurl molten rock and ash over a wide area

Residents watch from a hill as lava continues to flow from an erupted volcano, on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain on Friday.  Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

Residents watch from a hill as lava continues to flow from an erupted volcano, on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain on Friday. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

 

Authorities on the Spanish island of La Palma ordered the evacuation of the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the part of Tacande de Arriba that had not already been evacuated due to a volcanic eruption, emergency services said on Friday.

Authorities initially ordered residents of those towns to stay indoors but moved to an evacuation due to intensifying volcanic activity, they said.

The volcano is keeping nerves on edge for a fifth day since it erupted, producing loud explosions, a huge ash cloud and cracking open a new fissure that spewed out more fiery molten rock.

Already this week, almost 7,000 people have had to leave their homes. The prompt evacuations are credited with helping avoid casualties.

Loud bangs from the volcano’s mouth sent shockwaves echoing across the hillsides, while explosions hurled molten rock and ash over a wide expanse. As a precaution, emergency services pulled back from the area.

Regional airline Binter temporarily halted flights due to a huge ash cloud that rose four miles into the sky.

Lava spews from the volcano on Thursday. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/Pool/AFP via Getty
Lava spews from the volcano on Thursday. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/Pool/AFP via Getty

More encouragingly, Spain’s National Geographic Institute said it had not recorded any earthquakes in the area for 24 hours, after registering 1,130 over the past week amid intense seismic activity before and after the eruption on the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge.

The advance of the main river of lava sliding towards the sea slowed to about 1m per hour.

Both of the main lava flows are at least 10m high at their leading edges and have been destroying houses, farmland and infrastructure in their path since Sunday.

The lava has destroyed almost 400 buildings on La Palma, including many homes, on the western side of the island of 85,000 people, a European Union monitoring programme said.

It said the lava stretches over 440 acres and has blocked nine miles of roads. Islanders make a living mostly from farming and tourism, and some may lose their livelihoods.

On a visit to La Palma, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced a package of measures to help get the island back on its feet and “rebuild lives”.

The Spanish government will provide aid for rebuilding homes and public infrastructure, such as roads, irrigation networks and schools, as well as relaunching the island’s tourism industry, Mr Sanchez said.

He did not say how much money would be made available, but said a cabinet meeting next week would provide more details.

Scientists say the lava flows could last for weeks or months. – Reuters/AP