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.
Reuters images showed clouds of white steam 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 closest 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 Sept. 19, destroying almost 600 houses and banana plantations in La Palma, which neighbours Tenerife in the Canary Islands archipelago off the North African coast.
Thousands flee, others locked down
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.
Spain classified La Palma as a disaster zone on Tuesday, a move that will cause financial sustain for the island.
The government announced a first package of $15.6 million Cdn, which includes around $7.4 million to buy houses, with the rest to acquire furniture and basic household goods, government spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said.
One resident who was evacuated last week from the village of Tacande de Arriba was delighted to find his house nevertheless standing and his pet cats unscathed.
“It’s a good feeling, a fantastic feeling,” said Gert Waegerle, 75, who fled the advancing lava with his five turtles on Friday, but had to leave the cats behind.
“I am super happy because in the end, everything turned out fine.”
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