Hundreds evacuated as red-hot lava threatens homes in Spain's La Palma


The Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava and smoke as it continues to erupt on the Canary Island of La Palma, as seen from Tacande, Spain, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) -Over 700 residents were ordered to abandon their homes on Tuesday on the Spanish island of La Palma as red-hot lava advanced towards their neighbourhood.

As the river of molten magma descended from the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the northeast of the Canary Island, authorities ordered between 700 and 800 inhabitants of La Laguna to leave home with their belongings and pets, according to the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca).

"We have been obliged to evacuate a new area. The lava is advancing slowly. People should have time to take their documents, their personal items and anything of value," said Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of Pevolca.

There were 64 seismic movements on Tuesday, the strongest measuring 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said.

La Palma airport remained open but 11 flights were cancelled on Tuesday and others were delayed, airport operator AENA said.

Earlier on Tuesday, officials lifted a lockdown ordered because of a cloud of smoke over two villages caused by the eruption, allowing more than 3,000 residents to go outside.

Lava gushing from the volcano engulfed a cement plant on Monday, raising clouds of smoke and prompting authorities to instruct people in the area stay at home.

Emergency services had told residents in the towns of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane to stay indoors, shut their windows and turn off air conditioning units to avoid inhaling toxic fumes from the burning cement plant as it was gradually swallowed by the lava.

Lava from the eruption that began on Sept. 19 has laid waste to nearly 600 hectares in total, authorities said.

After the volcano's cone partially collapsed on Saturday, a new river of lava streamed towards the sea, devouring banana and avocado plantations and most of the remaining houses in the town of Todoque.

Torrents of molten rock have destroyed 1,186 buildings in the three weeks since the eruption, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute said.

About 6,700 people have been evacuated from their homes on La Palma, which has about 83,000 inhabitants.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Silvio Castellanos, Bart Biesemans; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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