Three weeks since the volcanic eruption on Spain’s La Palma island, the volcano is still spewing out red-hot lava and has advanced to more areas, prompting authorities to order more than 700 residents to abandon their homes. As the river of molten magma descended from the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the northeast of the Canary Island on Tuesday, authorities ordered between 700 and 800 inhabitants of La Laguna to leave home with their belongings and pets, according to the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca).
There were 64 seismic movements on Tuesday, the strongest measuring 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said.
Earlier on Tuesday, officials lifted a lockdown ordered because of a cloud of smoke over two villages caused by the eruption, allowing more than 3,000 residents to go outside.
Lava gushing from the volcano engulfed a cement plant on Monday, raising clouds of smoke and prompting authorities to instruct people in the area stay at home.
The volcanic eruption that initially cracked open on Sept. 19 has upended the lives of thousands and anything in the path of the lava – homes, farms, swimming pools and industrial buildings in the largely agricultural area – has been destroyed.
Lava from the eruption has laid waste to nearly 600 hectares in total, authorities said.
Torrents of molten rock have destroyed 1,186 buildings in the three weeks since the eruption, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute said, and forced the evacuation of about 6,700 people.
“We cannot say that we expect the eruption that began 21 days ago to end anytime soon,” said Julio Pérez, the regional minister for security on the Canary Islands.
La Palma is part of Spain’s Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa whose economy depends on the cultivation of the Canary plantain and tourism. The Canary Islands’ tourism industry was already hard hit by the pandemic, and officials were urging tourists not to keep staying away.
The last eruption on La Palma 50 years ago lasted just over three weeks. The last eruption on all the Canary Islands occurred underwater off the coast of El Hierro island in 2011 and lasted five months.