MADRID (AP) — The second 4.5 magnitude earthquake in two days rattled the Spanish island of La Palma on Friday, officials said, as scientists described a gushing river of molten rock from an erupting volcano as “a true lava tsunami.”
The two quakes were the strongest to hit La Palma, part of the Canary Islands off northwest Africa, since the volcano erupted on Sept. 19, Spain’s National Geographical Institute said.
Lava rushing toward the Atlantic Ocean caused the evacuation of over 300 people on Thursday. This brings the total number of people who were forced to leave their homes since Tuesday up to 1,200 according to La Palma’s government. The government estimated that approximately 71,000 people had fled since the eruption.
The eruption has not caused any injuries to the 85,000-strong island. The majority of the island’s economy, which is mostly based on tourism and farming, was not affected by the eruption.
The Cumbre Vieja mountain ridge still had two major rivers of lava flowing Friday. Although the first river has stopped, the second is still spewing large amounts of molten rocks and requiring authorities to remain alert in case it becomes dangerous.
Canary Islands Volcanology Institute compared one flow to a tsunami of molten rock pouring down a hillside.
The volcano has coughed up ocean sediment that pre-dates the island’s formation 2 million years ago, Vicente Soler of Spain’s Higher Center for Scientific Research said.
An EU satellite monitoring agency reported that the lava had destroyed 1,500 buildings and covered over 680 ha (1,680 acres).