LA PALMA – Buildings near the volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma were engulfed by rivers of lava in the early hours of Saturday, with the drama of the red-hot eruption intensified by the lightning spectacle.
The magma destroyed at least four buildings in the town of Callejón de la Gata, Reuters witnesses said.
“During the early hours of the morning the new flows have caused more property destruction. Helplessness and pain in the face of so much damage, ”Anselmo Pestana, representative of the Spanish government in the Canary Islands, tweeted.
There was also a series of 37 earthquakes on Saturday, with the largest measuring 4.1, the National Geological Institute of Spain said.
However, the La Palma airport reopened on Saturday after being closed since Thursday because of the ash, said the Spanish air traffic operator Aena. All other airports in the Canary Islands are open.
Since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began to erupt on September 19, it has destroyed nearly 1,150 buildings and swallowed up 480 hectares (1,190 acres) of land, the European Commission’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service tweeted on Saturday.
About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on La Palma, which has about 83,000 inhabitants.
Lightning was seen near the eruption early Saturday. A study published in 2016 by the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that lightning can be produced during volcanic eruptions because the collision of ash particles creates an electrical charge.
Airlines flying to the Canary Islands were recommended to load additional fuel in case planes had to change course or delay landing due to ash, said a spokesman for Enaire, which controls navigation in Spanish airspace.
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