As the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma enters its sixth week there is still no sign of an end to the explosive activity.
There are now five ‘mouths’ emitting molten magna that have created 10 lava streams, following the partial collapse in the volcano’s secondary cone at the weekend. The flows are branching out and continue their descent towards the neighbourhoods of nearby towns and the sea. Residents fear that more houses could be flattened as the ‘tongues’ of lava continue advancing.
More than 2,100 properties have already been destroyed along with 65 kilometres of roads.
The latest lava flow, which runs south of the volcanic cone, after another collapse happened on Saturday, threatens the Las Manchas area and its cemetery. The lava has also surrounded the town of La Laguna where a dormant tongue reached 14 metres in height on Sunday. It could advance by razing more houses or funnelling into another stream to the sea and wiping out more banana plantations and farms.
On Sunday the height of the ash and gas cloud from the erupting volcano was 3,200 metres. The air quality also deteriorated as more than 36,100 tonnes of sulphur dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere, well above the 50 to 100 tonnes that would signal the end of activity.
Seismic activity on the island has increased with more than 80 tremors registered on Sunday, making almost 150 since last Friday. Some registered a magnitude above 5 that were felt in the neighbouring islands.
Experts do not dare to predict how long the eruption or advance of the lava streams may still last.