Orange lava flows like a waterfall over the cliffs and pour into the black Atlantic Ocean off the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma. When the lava, which can be up to 1000 degrees Celsius, comes into contact with the sea near the town of Playa Nueva, smoke and large clouds of white steam rise.
Nine days after it began flowing down the mountain, leaving a trail of devastation on its way, it has now reached the sea. The Spanish Institute of Oceanography tweeted on Tuesday night and published impressive pictures taken by one of its ships.
Experts now fear explosions of glowing lava rocks and boiling hot tidal waves. There is also concern that contact of the lava with seawater could release harmful gases. For this reason, a curfew had already been maintained for four districts with a total of around 300 residents.
The Canarian Security Authority tweeted: “When you are outside, find a safe place to take refuge.”
The newspaper “La Vanguardia” reported that after lava and rocks fell into the sea, a 50-meter-high pyramid was piled up. Previously, the lava flow near the municipality of Tazacorte fell down a cliff about 100 meters high.
According to the sea rescue service, the lava has been flowing into the sea since midnight (CEST). A south wind blows. The Oceanography Institute further tweeted that the lava could be seen advancing to the base of the cliff.
The volcanic island was declared a disaster area on Tuesday. Since the volcano erupted on September 19 for the first time in 50 years in the Cumbre Vieja ridge in the south of the island, the lava on the western flank has been flowing towards the sea. So far, almost 600 buildings, banana plantations and large greenhouses near the coast have been destroyed by the red-hot mass.
The number of people who had to leave their homes fell slightly to 5,600 after some residents were allowed to return. According to estimates by the regional government, the damage amounts to several hundred million euros.