LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE, Canary Islands (AP) — Hundreds of people feared for their homes and property in Spain’s Canary Islands on Wednesday as a new river of lava from an erupting volcano threatened another neighborhood on the island of La Palma. put in.
Island officials on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of about 800 people from the coastal city of Los Llanos de Ariadne after lava took a new course in the Atlantic Ocean and put their homes in a possible path of destruction. About 6,000 people were asked to leave shortly after the Cambre Vieja volcano erupted on 19 September, the first mass evacuation.
Volcanoes found that a new lava flow had branched north of the main river of molten rock and was moving towards an inhabited area outside the previous evacuation zone.
“Part of the neighborhood had already been evacuated, but given the development of the lava stream, it was deemed necessary to evacuate this specific area,” Los Llano de Ariadne mayor María García told Spanish state broadcaster TVE.
Residents of the La Laguna neighborhood had only a few hours to collect their most valuables and leave. Volunteers helped school staff save educational materials, while others loaded furniture into cars and trucks. On Wednesday, police were accompanied by individual families, who asked them to go back to the exclusion zone to get more goods.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the island on Wednesday, his fourth visit since the initial eruption.
“Unfortunately, we have news from the Scientific Committee that the activity of the volcano is not decreasing, so its activity is not going to decrease in the coming days,” Sanchez said. “I know it’s hard after so many days and nights of torment, but I ask you to be patient, because there’s nothing we can do until the volcano closes.”
Sánchez’s government has pledged 214 million euros ($247 million) to help rebuild homes, farms and businesses in the affected area.
The volcano that opened the Cumbre Vieja mountain ridge 24 days ago has now lasted longer than the last eruption on La Palma in 1971. This is the third eruption on the island in the last century.
Most of those who had to leave their homes have taken refuge with family or friends. There are about 280 people in a hotel. For those whose homes have been destroyed, officials are working on buying vacant or newly built houses.
La Palma is part of Spain’s Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of Canary plantain.
Lava has destroyed more than 1,400 buildings on the island, including homes, farms and other structures, and covered 656 hectares (1,621 acres), including 90 hectares (over 200 acres) of plantations. No one has died.