Lava from Spanish island volcano rolls slowly toward the sea

Sep 27, 2021, 2:00 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2021, 7:20 am
In this photo made available by Ume (Unidad Militar de Emergencias), Military Emergency Unit person...

In this photo made available by Ume (Unidad Militar de Emergencias), Military Emergency Unit personal take gas reading measurements near a volcano on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, in the early hours of Tuesday Sept. 28, 2021. Lava flowing from an erupting volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma has picked up pace on its way to the sea. Officials say it is now within about 800 meters (875 yards) of the shoreline. When the molten rock eventually meets the sea water it could trigger explosions and toxic gas. (Luismi Ortiz/UME via AP)

(Luismi Ortiz/UME via AP)

LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE, Canary Islands (AP) — Lava flowing from a volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands picked up its pace on its way to the sea Tuesday, but scientists said it was impossible to estimate when the black-and-red stream of molten rock would reach the shore.

Authorities said the lava had moved on the island of La Palma to within 800 meters (875 yards) of the Atlantic Ocean as of Tuesday morning, nine days after the volcano’s eruption. When it eventually meets sea water, the lava could trigger explosions and the release of toxic gas.

By the afternoon, officials said various factors dictated the unpredictable speed of the lava flow, including its departure from a path over an earlier flow that had hardened. The river of cooled lava had helped the moving flow slide along.

“The lava cools down as time passes and it meets uneven ground, which slows it down,” said Miguel Ángel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands emergency volcano response department. “And if it comes off the highway it was going along, that slows it even more because it spreads out wider.”

A small hill and a built-up area also stood in the lava’s way, and the shore area is flatter than the hills the lava has been flowing down.

For days, officials have nervously awaited the time when lava from the Sept. 19 eruption reaches the Atlantic, but the volcano has been erratic. After calming down on Monday, the volcano became more explosive again overnight.

Authorities said they don’t expect the slow-moving lava to create a large disruption on the coast. But Eugenio Fraile, a researcher at the Spanish Oceanography Institute, told Cadena Ser radio that only scientists wearing protective gear will be inside a security perimeter when the flow hits the ocean.

The National Geographic Institute detected six earthquakes Tuesday in the area of the eruption, with the strongest measured at magnitude 3.3.

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

Lava from the eruption has devoured everything in its path, destroying 589 buildings and 21 kilometers (13 miles) of roads on La Palma. The lava now covers 258 hectares (637 acres), mostly farmland, according to a European Union satellite monitoring agency.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, thanks to the prompt evacuations of over 6,000 people.

But local people have lost their homes and their livelihoods at the same time. Farming is one of the island’s economic mainstays, along with tourism, and the lava and ash has ruined crops and irrigation systems, endangered aviation and poses a significant health risk to those nearby.

No flights went in or out of La Palma’s airport for a fourth straight day because of a huge ash cloud. Volcanic ash is hazardous for aircraft engines.

The Spanish government announced after its weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday it’s providing an immediate grant of 10.5 million euros ($12.3 million) to buy 107 properties to rehouse local people and also provide them with income aid.

More aid, including for the rebuilding of public infrastructure, will be sent once the current emergency is over, government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said.

The volcano has so far spewed out more than 46 million cubic meters (1.6 billion cubic feet) of molten rock, according to the Canary Island Volcanology Institute.


Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Tribe given land where ancestors survived near-annihilation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The land where the Rhode Island Narragansett tribe survived near-annihilation in a battle with English colonists in 1675 has been transferred to the tribe. The transfer of the land from the Rhode Island Historical Society was finalized Friday. Tribal members gathered Saturday in the woods in South Kingstown at a monument […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Retail trade group sees holiday sales gain of 8.5% to 10.5%

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects that holiday sales gain could shatter last year’s record-breaking season even as snarled global supply chains slow the flow of goods and result in higher prices for a broad range of items. The trade group said Wednesday that it predicts […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Kosovo sanctions 7 people, 1 company for links to Hezbollah

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo on Wednesday sanctioned seven local businessmen and a company for links with Lebanon’s military group Hezbollah. The decision was in line with sanctions the U.S. imposed on Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction that holds seats in Lebanon’s Parliament. A statement said that seven people and the AID Properties company had […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

‘Greatest Show On Earth’ circus may return without animals

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Four years after the “Greatest Show On Earth” shut down, officials are planning to bring back the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — without animal acts. An announcement is expected sometime next year, according to Nicole Zimmerman, a spokesperson for Feld Entertainment Inc. of Ellenton, Florida. The three-ring […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this May 28, 2021, file photo, United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to Myanma...
Associated Press

UN envoy says ‘civil war’ has spread throughout Myanmar

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The outgoing U.N. envoy for Myanmar says “civil war” has spread throughout the country and the international community should consider measures aimed at replacing the military junta’s leaders with people who are more constructive and want to find a peaceful solution to the army’s ouster of the elected government. Christine Schraner […]
1 day ago
This 2018 photo provided by the family shows Rachel Held Evans and her husband, Dan Evans, with the...
Associated Press

A new book on faith from popular author who died in 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Christian author Rachel Held Evans left behind a legion of loyal readers when she died in May 2019, at the age of 37. Last June, a children’s book she’d been working on was published posthumously and soon topped the picture-book bestseller lists. Next week, her final book for adults is being […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Lava from Spanish island volcano rolls slowly toward the sea