Spain: Lava from La Palma volcano reaches the Atlantic Ocean

Red-hot lava from a volcano that devastated the Spanish island of La Palma reached the Atlantic Ocean late on Tuesday evening, nine days after it started to flow down the mountains, wrecking buildings and destroying crops.

Clouds of white steam was seen billowing up from the Playa Nueva area. Officials had warned of possible explosions and clouds of toxic gases when the lava reaches the sea.

The Canary Islands's emergency service urged those outdoors to immediately find a safe place to shelter. No injuries have been reported.

"When the lava reaches the sea, the lockdown must be strictly observed," Miguel Angel Morcuende, director of the Pevolca response committee, said earlier on Tuesday.

Lava has been flowing down the volcano's western flank toward the sea since September 19, destroying almost 600 houses and banana plantations in La Palma, which neighbours Tenerife in the Canary Islands archipelago off the North African coast.

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

Thousands have been evacuated from the island and three coastal villages were locked down on Monday in anticipation of the lava meeting the Atlantic Ocean.