A volcano eruption on one of Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic forced thousands to evacuate and has already destroyed hundreds of homes as the lava continues to flow.
Dramatic aerial footage shows the major lava flow on the island of La Palma creeping toward more homes, destroying everything in its path as it moves closer towards the sea.
So far, at least 183 homes have been destroyed, according to El Pais, and over 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
By Tuesday, the flow had slowed to 300 meters per hour, compared to 700 meters per hour on Monday morning.
The president of the island’s governing body, Mariano Hernández Zapata, told local news reporters that the number of homes destroyed could “double or triple” as the lava advances.
La Palma has a population of about 85,000 residents. So far, no deaths or injuries have been reported, however acres of agricultural land, mainly bananas, have been destroyed.
Rosendo Lea, 47, is a resident of the town of Todoque, home to 1,300 residents where the lava is approaching. Lea told El Pais that he, his wife and his 13-year-old son were forced to evacuate.
“My home is two kilometers from the lava and the fire,” he explained. “We are praying that it is not burned. It’s very small here and we all know each other. We are spending the day watching and saying, look at the house of this poor guy, it’s been burned.”
Sunday’s volcanic eruption on La Palma was the first on the island since 1971. Several small earthquakes followed the blast.
It is not yet certain how long the volcano will continue spewing lava, but the 1971 eruption lasted for 24 days, El Pais reported. Officials are also unsure if the lava will actually reach the ocean.
Scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography are traveling to the island to study what that meeting would look like.
The organization told El Pais it estimates that between 7,997 and 10,665 tons of poisonous Sulphur dioxide are being released into the atmosphere each day.
“I want to stress the need for the utmost precaution with a volcano that is active and that is moving unstoppably toward the sea,” Canarian regional premier Ángel Víctor Torres told El Pais on Tuesday.
Basic services, telecommunications and power were all operational on Tuesday, although there are growing concerns of water availability, El Pais reported.
King Felipe VI is expected to visit the island on Thursday, the outlet reported.