New lava tubes from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma island have sent molten lava flowing downhill at speeds of up to 1 meter (3 feet) per second since Monday, according to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute.
Further down the mountain, on the west side of the island just off the coast of Africa, the lava continues to threaten the remaining buildings in the town of La Laguna, which was evacuated more than a month ago.
The town’s church is now just a kilometer (around 0.6 miles) from the widest lava flow, advancing toward the Atlantic Ocean, according to a map issued Tuesday by the Canary Island government’s volcano crisis committee.
The eruptions started September 19 and haven’t stopped since.
The lava has already reached the Atlantic in two places on the island’s west coast, falling off cliffs into the ocean and then adding to the coastline with a total of 48 hectares (approximately 118 acres) of lava landfill, the committee said.
But it has obliterated much more. The lava has destroyed 1,134 hectares (around 2,800 acres), a third of which is farmland. The flow has devoured banana and avocado plantations vital to the island’s economy.
It has also destroyed more than 1,200 homes and 300 other buildings, the committee said.
More than 6,000 people have been displaced on the island with a population of about 80,000.
La Palma is one of the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, located off Morocco’s west coast.