“Lava tsunami” seen spewing from Cumbre Vieja volcano

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: Spanish government pledges $240 million in La Palma aid as new fissures open in volcano eruption

Volcanologists on Thursday said they discovered a “lava tsunami” rapidly flowing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma. Cumbre Vieja started erupting nearly a month ago, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people as lava has made its way through towns and toward the Atlantic Ocean. 

Video posted by the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands, known as INVOLCAN, shows the so-called “tsunami” racing down the volcano. The scene, the institute said, is a picture of “amazing speed and overflow of the lava channel.” 

The government of the Canary Islands has said that this is the “most damaging volcano in Europe in the last 100 years.” Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said Thursday that while there is “sorrow, sadness and uncertainty” on the island, there is also hope and courage. 

“The Palmists are not going to give up,” he said. 

As of Thursday, the lava has spread to 674 hectares, more than 1,665 acres, according to the European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre. Since the eruption started on September 19, 6,800 people have been evacuated, and 1,548 buildings have been destroyed. 

Other videos posted by INVOLCAN show several feet of lava — with layers of black rocks surrounding a steaming orange and red core — slowly moving down neighborhoods, covering streets and swallowing objects that are in its path. 

The island’s agriculture, a main source of income for people on the island, has taken a hit from the eruption. On Thursday, the government said that more than 179 hectares, about 442 acres, of crops have been destroyed. Impacted crops include banana trees, vineyards and avocados, among other crops, the government said. 

Along with the lava’s path, a major concern for locals is the accumulation of ash. The government said Friday that it has distributed more than 22,000 pairs of goggles and 280,000 masks to areas that have been directly impacted by the eruption. Citizens have been urged to stay indoors, and if they go outdoors, to fully cover their skin. 

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