More than 1,000 people have been ordered to abandon their homes on the Spanish island of La Palma when a new lava river from the Cumbre Vieja volcano threatened towns on the island’s west coast.
- Authorities are concerned that the lava flow is advancing towards the town of La Laguna
- Hundreds of residents were given only hours to evacuate
- The volcano’s molten lava has already engulfed nearly 600 acres across the island of La Palma
About 800 people from the town of Los Llanos de Aridane were put under an evacuation order on Wednesday night (local time) after the lava took a new course, taking home a probable destruction route.
Volcanologists found that a new lava flow north of the main river of molten rock had branched off and was on its way to an inhabited area outside the former evacuation zone.
“Part of the neighborhood had already been evacuated, but given the evolution of the lava flow, it was considered necessary to clear this specific zone,” Los Llano de Aridane mayor María García told Spanish state broadcaster TVE.
It was the second evacuation order in 24 hours.
On Tuesday, more than 700 people in the nearby La Laguna neighborhood were ordered to evacuate their homes.
“We will pick up documents and other things,” said La Laguna resident Enrique.
“Our whole life is in that house, and we can not gather over 30 years in five minutes.”
Slow lava flow gives residents time to collect valuables
Authorities gave homeowners a few hours to collect their belongings.
“The lava is moving slowly. People should have time to take their documents, their personal belongings and everything of value,” said Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan.
Belongings from schools, businesses and homes were quickly put behind vans, while school books, desks and toys were carried away by local residents.
Others put pets and pets in the back of their vehicles.
There were 64 seismic movements on Tuesday, the strongest measurement at 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said.
La Palma airport remained open, but 11 flights were canceled on Tuesday and others were delayed, airport operator AENA said.
‘We can do nothing until the volcano stops’
Recent evacuation orders have led to the first mass exodus since about 6,000 people were asked to leave immediately after the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on 19 September.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez traveled to the island on Wednesday (local time), his fourth visit since the first eruption.
“Unfortunately, the news we have from the Scientific Committee is that the activity of the volcano is not declining, so a reduction in its activity is not foreseeable in the coming days,” Sánchez said.
“I know it’s hard after so many days and nights of suffering, but I ask you to be patient, because we can do nothing until the volcano stops.”
The Sánchez government has pledged 214 million euros ($ 334 million) to help rebuild homes, farms and businesses in the affected area.
The volcano that opened the Cumbre Vieja ridge 24 days ago has now lasted longer than the previous eruption at La Palma in 1971.
It is the third eruption on the island in the last century.
Earlier in the week, lava engulfed a cement plant and raised clouds of smoke.
Low from the eruption, which began on September 19, has covered a total of nearly 600 acres, authorities said.
After the cone of the volcano partially collapsed on Saturday, a new lava river flowed toward the Atlantic Ocean, devouring banana and avocado plantations and most of the remaining houses in the town of Todoque.
Molten stone torrents have destroyed 1,186 buildings in the three weeks since the eruption, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute said, forcing the evacuation of about 6,700 people. No life has been lost.
ABC / wires