MADRID – A magnitude 4.5 earthquake shook La Palma in the Canary Islands of Spain, the strongest earthquake since the eruption 26 days ago.
The National Geographic Institute of Spain reported that one of the nearly 60 quakes recorded at night was an earthquake, as the Cumberland Viza volcanic lava flowed, destroying everything in its path. And is throwing molten rock into the ocean.
Officials said the lava had partially or completely destroyed more than 1,600 buildings, half of them houses, although immediate evacuations have so far prevented any casualties. About 7,000 people had to leave their homes, 300 of them on Thursday.
“This is definitely the most serious rupture in Europe in the last 100 years,” said Angel Victor Torres, president of the Canary Islands.
“The only good news is that no one has been harmed so far,” he said.
The La Palma government says the flow of three rivers of molten rock has widened to just a mile, but their progress has slowed.
Hard, black lava now covers 1,665 acres on the west coast of the island, officials said, although most of La Palma has not been affected.
Authorities advised locals not to travel by car as the volcanic ash was up to an ankle deep in some places. The volcanic plume was about 8,500 feet high as of Thursday.
La Palma is a part of the Canary Islands of Spain, an island in the Atlantic Ocean far from northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of canary bananas.