The lava begins to engulf the first rows of niches in the Las Manchas cemetery. / EFE

Video | A sudden and powerful emission of lava buries Las Manchas cemetery on La Palma

Thousands of niches were engulfed as the molten magma from the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano swept through the burial place

ALFONSO TORICES

This Thursday, 26 November, was one of the saddest days for many of the residents on the island of La Palma since the Cumbre Vieja volcano started to erupt.

After 68 days resisting the lava from the La Palma volcano, a huge river of molten magma penetrated the Las Manchas cemetery shortly before noon and began to engulf the first rows of niches.

3,000 buried

The cemetery, in which some 3,000 relatives of the residents of Los Llanos de Aridane and other nearby towns are buried, had been covered by mountains of ash for weeks, but until now it had managed to avoid the lava flows thanks to a natural barrier, the Nape peak, an elevation born from another ancient eruption.

This Thursday, however, a new lava stream on the southern slope of the volcano, which runs through part of La Laguna, broke through the barrier and invaded the burial space. It followed a sudden and powerful emission of lava from the main mouth of the Cumbre Vieja, which surprised the experts.

The emergency services could not hide their concern because it is an area full of rural properties and residential developments, although locals have been evacuated for several days.

Airport reopens

The island is on an amber alert, this Friday, for heavy rain and residents have been advised to be on their guard for mud and landslides.

In a more positive development, some six days of intensive ash clearing has allowed the island’s airport to reopen.