Hundreds of people on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands on Wednesday woke up fearing for their homes and property after a new river of lava from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on its way toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Island authorities ordered the evacuation of about 800 people from the coastal town of Los Llanos de Aridane on Tuesday after the lava took a new course and put their homes in its probable path of destruction.
Around 6,000 people were immediately removed from the area in the hours after the initial Sept. 19 volcanic eruption, when their homes and farms were directly below the path of the volcano’s first lava stream.
No new mass evacuations had been necessary in the following three weeks. But on Tuesday, volcanic scientists advising authorities found that a new lava flow to the north of the main river of molten rock had branched off and was heading toward an inhabited area outside what had previously been the evacuation zone.
“A part of the neighborhood had already been evacuated, but given the evolution of the lava stream it was deemed necessary to clear this specific zone,” Los Llanos de Aridane Mayor María García said.
The strongest strongest earthquake of magnitude 4.4, hit the island at 3.33pm on Wednesday. Its location was at approximately 36km depth under the central part of Cumbre Vieja volcano.
The tremor was widely felt on the island. Other than this, seismic activity has remained at similar levels as yesterday. During the past 24 hours, there were 19 quakes between 3.0 and 4.0, and 47 quakes between 2.0 and 3.0 shook the region. Smaller quakes are currently not being detected as they are hidden in the strong volcanic tremor.
The Canary Islands are an Atlantic archipelago off northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of the Canary plantain.
The lava has destroyed more than 1,400 buildings, including homes, farms and other structures, and covered 1,621 acres, including more than 200 dedicated to the growth of plantains. No lives have been lost.