Spanish island volcano still rumbling 5 days after eruption

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Residents look from a hill as the lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. A volcano on a small Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean erupted on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Experts say the volcanic eruption and its aftermath on a Spanish island could last for up to 84 days. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

TODOQUE – A volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands continued to produce explosions and spew out lava Friday, five days after it erupted, authorities said.

Loud bangs unnerved local people and sent shock waves echoing across the hillsides. The explosions around the volcano’s mouth hurled molten rock and ash over a wide expanse. As a precaution, emergency services pulled back from the area.

Regional airline Binter temporarily halted flights due to a huge ash cloud.

The lava has destroyed almost 400 buildings on La Palma, including many homes, on the western side of the island of 85,000 people, a European Union monitoring program said.

It said the lava stretches over 180 hectares (almost 20,000 square feet) and has blocked 14 kilometers (9 miles) of roads. Islanders make a living mostly from farming and tourism, and some may lose their livelihoods.

The government of la Palma island said officials had recorded 1,130 quakes in the area over the past week as the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge shook with blasts of lava.

On a visit to La Palma, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a package of measures to help get the island back on its feet and “rebuild lives.”

The Spanish government will provide aid for rebuilding homes and public infrastructure, such as roads, irrigation networks and schools, as well as relaunching the island’s tourism industry, Sánchez said. He did not say how much money would be made available, but said a Cabinet meeting next week would provide more details.

The blasts are sending ash up to 4,500 meters (almost 15,000 feet) into the air, the Guardia Civil police force said in a tweet. Local authorities advised people to protect themselves from the ash with face masks.

Two rivers of lava continued to slide slowly down the hillside, with experts doubting whether they would cover the remaining 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) to the sea due to their slowing progress.

One of the molten rock flows has almost ground to a halt and a second one is moving at between 4 and 5 meters an hour, the Guardia Civil said.

Both are at least 10 meters (33 feet) high at their leading edge and are destroying houses, farmland and infrastructure in their path.

Scientists say the lava flows could last for weeks or months.

Authorities haven’t reported any casualties from the eruption. Scientists had been monitoring the volcanic activity and had warned of a possible eruption, allowing almost 7,000 people to be evacuated in time.