Three weeks after the volcano first erupted, slabs of molten lava as large as three-story buildings have rolled down a hillside on the Spanish island of La Palma, while a series of tremors shook the earth.
- Lava flows have destroyed more than 1,100 buildings in La Palma in the last few weeks
- About 6,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes
- The Spanish navy has been called in to help with the clean-up
According to the Spanish National Geological Survey (ING), there were 21 seismic movements, with the largest measuring magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale shaking the villages of Mazo, Fuencaliente and El Paso.
The Spanish Institute of Geology and Mining said the plates of red-hot lava flowing down the side of the Cumbre Vieja volcano were the size of three-story buildings.
From Monday, members of the Spanish navy will help clean up volcanic ash that covers large parts of the island, Defense Secretary Margarita Robles said.
The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (CIVI) said on Twitter that the lava flow – with temperatures up to 1,240 degrees Celsius – destroyed the last few buildings left in the village of Todoque.
A spokesman for the Spanish National Geological Institute (ING), Stavros Meletlidis, told Reuters there was a partial cone collapse near the volcano’s emission vent on Saturday local time.
“The collapse of the northern flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano has caused the release of large blocks of material and the emergence of new currents flowing through areas already evacuated,” Spain’s national security department tweeted.
“The lava has reached the Camino de la Gata industrial area and new buildings.”
Since erupting on September 19, lava flows have destroyed 1,186 buildings, the CIVI said.
The organization’s technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende, said the lava had engulfed 493 hectares of land.
About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on La Palma, which has about 83,000 inhabitants.
Lightning was seen near the eruption early Saturday. A study published in 2016 by the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that lightning can be generated during volcanic eruptions because collisions of ash particles create an electric charge.