MADRID (AP) — Hundreds of people were evacuated during the night on the Spanish island of La Palma as a river of molten rock crept deeper into a coastal town during a protracted volcanic eruption, authorities said Thursday.

Emergency services helped some 500 people leave their homes, the mayor of Tazacorte, Juan Miguel Rodríguez, told public broadcaster RTVE.

Around 7,500 people fled the area since Cumbre Vieja’s eruption more than one month ago. Researchers believe the eruption may continue for up to three more months.

Molten rock covered over 866 hectares (2.1100 acres), and damaged or destroyed around 2,185 structures.
Source: Associated Press

The tension of not knowing whether the slow-moving molten rock would entomb their homes, farmland and businesses is taking a toll on local people, Rodríguez said. “There is already a certain degree of despondency and desperation, waiting for the volcano to subside,” he said.

While the volcano has not affected the vast majority of the island, which is home to 85,000 inhabitants in northwest Africa, some of its western neighbors have seen their livelihoods destroyed and homes damaged by the lava.

More than 866 ha (2,100 acres) of molten rock have been covered and around 2,185 buildings damaged or crushed by the molten rocks.

The volcano’s constant roar and numerous earthquakes have also kept locals on edge. According to the National Geographical Institute, 38 earthquakes were recorded since midnight. The strongest was a magnitude of 3.0.

The economy of La Palma, part of Spain’s Canary Islands, is based mainly from tourism and banana plantations. Spanish authorities have committed millions of Euros (dollars), to rebuild infrastructure that has been damaged.


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