The lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma is within 1.6 kilometres of the coast and experts are predicting it could soon reach the sea.
On Sunday afternoon the magma swept through the Todoque neighbourhood, destroying everything in its path, including the local church and health centre. The residents had been evacuated a few days ago as a precautionary measure.
The technical director Pevolca, the civil protection plan for volcanic risk in the Canary Islands, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, said that the lava has crossed the LP-213 road and runs approximately 150 metres to the west of the town.
Given the possibility that the lava could reach the sea in the coastal area of Tazacorte in the next few hours, and due to the risk that gases that are harmful to health could be given off, Pevolca has ordered the lockdown of the San Borondón, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa neighborhoods.
Residents must follow the instructions of the authorities and remain in their homes, with doors and windows closed, according to the Government of the Canary Islands.
The technical director of Pevolca said that the lava stream’s average speed is now about 100 metres/hour because it is hotter since it comes from deeper within the volcano - about 10 kilometres, which increases its fluidity.
The average height of the flow is between four and six metres, and the maximum width of the ‘tongue’ is about 600 metres, he points out.
In addition, the technical director has warned that the current explosive phase could continue, which can be felt within a radius of about five kilometres, and can shatter glass.
Ash continues to fall across other areas of the island, and experts say that to avoid respiratory and eye problems, residents should wear FFP2 face masks, protective glasses, gloves and long-sleeved clothing.