Lava from La Palma eruption reaches the Atlantic | World news

By DANIEL ROCA and JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press

LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE, Canary Islands (AP) – A river of bright red lava from the volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma has finally tumbled off a cliff and into the Atlantic Ocean, unleashing huge plumes of steam and may -be poisonous gases that required local residents outside the evacuation area to stay inside on Wednesday.

The immediate area had been evacuated for several days as authorities waited more than a week for the lava that began to erupt on September 19 to cross 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) to the edge of the island. Descending from the volcanic ridge of Cumbre Vieja, the streams consumed at least 656 buildings, mostly houses that turned out to be in its unstoppable march to the sea.

The meeting of molten rock and sea water finally took place at 11 p.m. on Tuesday. At dawn, a widening promontory of newborn earth could be seen forming under plumes of steam rising high in the area.

Even though their first air quality readings showed no danger in the region, experts had warned that the arrival of lava in the ocean would likely produce small explosions and release toxic gases that could damage the lungs. . Authorities established a 3.5 kilometer (2.1 mile) security perimeter and asked residents of the wider area to stay indoors with windows closed to avoid breathing gas.

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No fatalities or serious injuries were reported in the island’s first eruption in 50 years, thanks to the rapid evacuation of more than 6,000 people in the first hours after the land opened after weeks shaking.

The flattening of the land as it approached the coast had slowed the lava flow, causing it to widen and further damage villages and farms. The local economy is largely based on agriculture, especially the cultivation of Canarian plantain.

Just before spilling over a cliff into the sea at a local point known as Los Guirres, lava rolled over the coastal road, cutting off the last road in the area that connects the island to several villages.

“We hope that the channel to the sea that opened prevents the lava flow, which widened to reach 600 meters at one point, from continuing to grow, because this caused enormous damage”, ngel Víctor Torres, President of the Canary Islands region. government, Cope told Radio.

Torres said his government is working to accommodate those who have lost their homes. Authorities plan to buy more than 100 currently unoccupied homes. Torres cited a village, Todoque, home to 1,400 people, which was wiped out.

La Palma, home to around 85,000 people, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa. The island is approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide at its widest point.

Clean-up crews swept away the ash in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz, while other small earthquakes that rumbled beneath the volcano for weeks were recorded by geologists.

Flights to La Palma airport, a major tourist destination with its neighboring islands, remained canceled due to a huge ash cloud which, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute, reached up to seven kilometers.

However, Laura Garcés, director of the Spanish air navigation authority ENAIRE, said she did not foresee major problems for other airports in the archipelago or major air routes.

Experts said it was impossible to determine the duration of the rash too early. Previous eruptions in the archipelago have lasted for weeks, if not months.

___ Wilson reported from Barcelona.

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