MADRID (AP) – Authorities in Spain’s La Palma island said Monday they are tightening their watch on an erupting volcano, as part of the crater collapsed and released a cascade of more liquid and fast-moving lava .
The crater was “like a dam,” said María Jose Blanco, director of the National Geographic Institute on the Canary Islands. When part of its wall collapsed, molten rock of fire erupted from a “lava lake” inside.
The more liquid lava follows the same course as the previous molten rock that has now hardened, filling the gap and spreading into the surrounding countryside.
The river of lava is now 1,250 m (4,100 ft) wide – 300 m (1.000 ft) wide compared to Sunday, when the crater was partially ruptured.
More earthquakes also shook the island on Monday, although officials said they were deep underground and were not expected to cause new cracks.
The volcano on the Cambre Vieja ridge, which erupted two weeks ago, has become more explosive after erupting for several days last week. The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute showed images of football-shaped pieces of lava, which it called “volcano bombs,” that were thrown hundreds of meters from the crater.
The area covered by the lava has grown to more than 413 hectares (1,020 acres) and the new rocky shelf at the edge where the lava meets the Atlantic Ocean now covers about 33 hectares (about 80 acres), said Miguel ngel Morcuende of the regional According to the Volcanoes Emergency Department.
“It’s not over yet, we don’t even know how long that has to go,” Canary Islands regional president Angel Victor Torres told public broadcaster RTVE. “We are in the hands of nature.”
Most of La Palma, where about 85,000 people live, has been unaffected by the eruption. The quick evacuation helped avoid casualties from the explosion.
But the lava is causing considerable damage to property, public infrastructure and agricultural land.
According to a European Union satellite monitoring agency, it has so far partially or completely ruined more than 1,000 buildings, most of which are homes, destroying about 35 kilometers (about 20 miles) of roads.
Local officials prepared to distribute drinking water to homes after a lava flow broke public supply pipes.
The Volcano Emergency Committee ordered emergency workers and scientists to withdraw from the area around the volcano due to poor air quality.