Hundreds more forced to flee Canary Island volcano's lava

Eruption from Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma began three weeks ago

More than 700 people were ordered to evacuate their homes on the Spanish island of La Palma, the latest victims of a weeks-long volcano eruption.

Homeowners were given until 6pm on Tuesday to collect the belongings they wanted to take with them, and their pets.

Lava has been flowing down the Cumbre Vieja volcano's western flank towards the sea since September 19.

As the magma flowed on Tuesday, authorities ordered between 700 and 800 inhabitants of La Laguna to leave their homes.

“We want to pick up documents and other things because our whole life is in that house and we cannot collect over 30 years in five minutes,” said Enrique, 50, a Spanish homeowner.

Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of the island’s emergency planning system, Pevolca, said: “We have been obliged to evacuate a new area.

"The lava is advancing slowly. People should have time to take their documents, their personal items and anything of value."

There were 64 seismic movements on Tuesday, with the strongest measuring 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said.

On Monday, buildings were set ablaze and engulfed by lava when the flow hit an industrial estate and a cement factory.

La Palma airport remained open but 11 flights were cancelled on Tuesday and others were delayed, airport operator Aena said.

Torrents of molten rock have destroyed 1,186 buildings in the three weeks since the eruption, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute said, and forced about 6,700 people to move to safety.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, thanks to prompt evacuations.

The island is part of Spain's Canary Islands, an archipelago off north-west Africa that is a popular holiday destination for European tourists.

The two last eruptions on La Palma, in 1949 and 1971, killed a total of three people, two of them from gas inhalation.

More eruption photos

Updated: October 12th 2021, 8:34 PM
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