Authorities in Spain’s Canary Islands on Wednesday told residents on the western coast of La Palma to seal doors and windows with tape and wet towels to ward off toxic gases spewed by lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano as it reached the sea.
Lava gushing from the volcano for 10 days poured down a cliff into the sea in the Playa Nueva area near the town of Tazacorte, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute confirmed via Twitter.
As day broke, red hot lava protruded above the Atlantic Ocean waterline, sending clouds of steam and toxic gases into the sky. Smoke clouds billowed from the volcano and the molten rock as it flowed down Cumbre Vieja’s western flank.
“All the people in a 2-km radius have been evacuated” and a wider area is in lockdown, Tazacorte Mayor Juan Miguel Rodriguez Acosta told TV3 channel, adding that no further evacuations had been needed so far as the cloud was moving east.
He said all roads to the southern part of the islands had been cut off by the lava.
Spanish emergency officials told residents on the island to stay put. “The lava’s contact with the sea can generate gases harmful for (your) health. If you are in the confined zone of Tazacorte, the safest place is inside your home,” Canary Islands emergency services said via Twitter early Wednesday.
Authorities had previously established an exclusion zone at sea and on land, to protect people from the toxic gases and from explosions that would take place once the lava came in contact with sea water. No injuries have been reported.
The emergency services also told people to protect their mouths and noses with a wet cloth.
Since the eruption began on September 19, lava has engulfed almost 600 houses as well as banana plantations in La Palma, which neighbors Tenerife in the Canary Islands off the North African coast.
Thousands of people have been evacuated and three coastal villages were locked down on Monday in anticipation of the lava reaching the sea.
Spain classified La Palma as a disaster zone on Tuesday, a move that will trigger financial support for the island.