Environment

La Palma volcano unleashes ‘lava tsunami’

6,800 people evacuated as eruption becomes more violent

Alyssa McMurtry   | 15.10.2021
La Palma volcano unleashes ‘lava tsunami’ Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to spew lava, on the Canary island of La Palma in El Paso on October 02, 2021. ( Şenhan Bolelli - Anadolu Agency )

OVIEDO, Spain

The volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma has unleashed what scientists described as a “lava tsunami” as the eruption continued to intensify on Friday.

After spilling out from the main volcanic cone on Thursday, the lava started moving at speeds unseen since the eruption began, flowing like a powerful river down the mountain.

Scientists at the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute caught the event on film and called it an “authentic lava tsunami.”

By afternoon, Spain’s National Geographic Institute had already detected 30 separate earthquakes on the island since the day began. Three of them were of at least 4.0 magnitude, making them some of the strongest quakes since the eruption began nearly a month ago.

So far, around 8% of the small island’s landmass has been overtaken by lava. According to the latest Copernicus Satellite data, it has destroyed more than 1,400 buildings.

In recent days, hundreds of more people were evacuated from their homes, bringing the total number of people forced to seek shelter elsewhere to around 6,800.

Despite the damage caused by the eruption, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

However, one dramatic rescue mission is underway as a local drone company prepares to rescue four dogs that have been trapped in an area between two lava flows.

The increased intensity of the volcano is colliding with an “unfavorable” change in weather that could see the island also suffering from dangerously poor air quality.

“By the end of the weekend, the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide could skyrocket,” said Miguel Angel Morcuende, head of the government emergency panel Pevolca, advising residents to use masks or stay indoors.

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