MADRID (AP) – A 4.5 magnitude earthquake rocked La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain, in what was the strongest quake on record since volcanic eruptions began 26 days ago, have the authorities announced Thursday.
The earthquake was one of some 60 recorded overnight, said the Spanish National Geographical Institute, as the Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to spew flaming rivers of lava that destroy everything in their path and dump molten rock. in the Atlantic Ocean.
The lava has partially or completely destroyed more than 1,600 buildings, including about half of the houses, officials said, although rapid evacuations have so far avoided any deaths. About 7,000 people had to abandon their homes, including 300 on Thursday.
“It is certainly the most serious eruption in Europe in the last 100 years,” said Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres.
“The only good news is … so far no one has been hurt,” he said.
The flow of three rivers of molten rock has widened to nearly 1.8 kilometers (just over a mile), the government of La Palma said, but their progress has slowed at a breakneck pace.
The hard, black lava now covers 674 hectares (1,665 acres) on the west side of the island, authorities said, although most of Palma is unaffected.
Authorities have advised residents not to travel by car, as volcanic ash reached ankle-deep in some places. The volcano’s plume was 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet) high on Thursday.
La Palma is part of the Spanish Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean in northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of the Canary Islands plantain.