LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE, Canary Islands (WNN) — Lava from a volcano on Spain’s Canary Islands has reached the sea 10 days after wiping out hundreds of homes and evacuating thousands of residents.
Experts warned that the column of steam could contain toxic gases from the top as a bright red molten rock fell into the Atlantic Ocean at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
The area was evacuated for several days as officials waited for the lava to reach the water. Its erratic flow and changes in terrain slowed its progress. Authorities established a 3.5-kilometre (2.1 mi) security perimeter and asked residents of the wider area to stay indoors with windows closed to avoid breathing in the gases.
Lava flows from the September 19 eruption on La Palma have destroyed at least 589 buildings, mostly houses on the southwest side of the island that were caught on a slope below the volcano.
Thanks to the quick evacuation of more than 6,000 people in the first hours after last week’s eruption, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.
La Palma, home to about 85,000 people, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa. The island is approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) long and 20 kilometers (12 mi) wide.
Cleaning crews blew ashes in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz, while weeks of minor earthquakes beneath the volcano were recorded by geologists.
Spain’s National Geographic Institute said the airport at La Palma, an important tourist destination, along with neighboring islands remained closed due to the huge ash cloud.
However, Laura Garces, director of Spain’s air navigation authority ENAIRE, said she did not see any major problems for the archipelago or other airports on major air routes.
___ Joseph Wilson reported from Barcelona.