Lava spread raises fears of more damage on Spanish island

As it slowed, the lava grew thicker and in places rose up to 50 feet high, authorities said.

Lava spread raises fears of more damage on Spanish island

The advance of lava from a volcanic eruption in Spain’s Canary Islands has slowed significantly, raising doubts about whether it will fan out across the land and destroy more homes instead of flowing into the sea.

A giant river of lava slowed to 13 feet per hour after reaching a plain on Wednesday. On Monday, a day after the eruption on the island of La Palma, it was moving at 2,300 feet per hour.

As it slowed, the lava grew thicker. In places, it rose up to 50 feet high, authorities said. The lava now covers 410 acres and has swallowed around 350 homes.

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Thousands of people have been evacuated (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The Guardia Civil said seismic activity in the area, which surged before the eruption and has remained strong, has stabilised.

Molten lava, ash and smoke continued to pour from the volcano’s mouth, shooting up to nearly 14,000 feet high, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said. That raised concerns about whether airspace above the island could remain open.

ENAIRE, which manages Spain’s airspace, said two areas above the affected area are being declared no-fly zones to allow emergency services to operate freely. Some flights into and out of La Palma were delayed early on Thursday.

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Lava from a volcanic eruption flows on the island (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Authorities have not reported any casualties from the eruption, although damage to property, infrastructure and farmland is expected to be significant.

Scientists were monitoring the volcano and had warned of a possible eruption. That allowed almost 7,000 people to be evacuated in time.

Officials had initially expressed fears about what would happen when the lava reached the Atlantic Ocean. The lava, whose temperature exceeds 1,000C (more than 1,800F), could cause explosions, trigger landslides and produce clouds of toxic gas when it hits the ocean, experts say.

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Many homes have been destroyed (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Now that the flow seems to have slowed, he hopes to go back and retrieve some more things in case the house is entombed in lava — if police let him.

“We don’t know how long we have to wait until we can return to our homes because the roads are closed,” he told The Associated Press. “Some people have it worse off, their houses are gone.”

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Police officers and municipal workers look as lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

“We are waiting to see if we can go out to work or not,” he said. “It affects everything in our life. This changed our life.”

The eruption and its aftermath could last for up to almost three months, according to the Volcanology Institute.

Spain’s king and queen, and the Spanish prime minister, are due to visit the affected area.

Life on the rest of La Palma, which is roughly 22 miles long and 12 miles wide at its broadest point, has been largely unaffected, with undeterred tourists landing for previously scheduled holidays.

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