La Palma Volcano Opens New Fissure as Nearly 7,000 Evacuate to Avoid Lava Flows

Almost 7,000 people have had to evacuate their homes after a volcano in Spain's Canary Islands erupted on Sunday, and a new fissure cracked open Friday, the Associated Press reported.

As the lava flows continued, emergency services ordered people from three villages on the island of La Palma to evacuate, and ordered residents of another village to stay indoors. Nearly 7,000 people have already left their homes to avoid the lava flows this week, and the prompt evacuations are credited with helping avoid casualties.

The latest volcanic activity also released a large cloud of gas and ash, forcing airlines to cancel flights, the Guardian reported. Canary Island regional airlines Binter and Canaryfly suspended operations, canceling all flights to La Palma because of the eruption.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Canary Islands Volcano
Nearly 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes to avoid lava flows from the eruption on La Palma island in Spain's Canary Islands as a new fissure opened on September 24, 2021. Above, lava flows approaching houses as the Mount Cumbre Vieja erupt in El Paso, spewing out columns of smoke, ash and lava as seen on La Palma from Los Llanos de Aridane on September 19, 2021. Desiree Martin/AFP via Getty Images

Loud bangs from the volcano's mouth sent shock waves echoing across the hillsides. Explosions hurled molten rock and ash over a wide expanse. As a precaution, emergency services pulled back from the area.

Binter temporarily halted flights due to a huge ash cloud that rose 6 kilometers (almost 4 miles) into the sky.

More encouragingly, Spain's National Geographic Institute said it hadn't recorded any earthquakes in the area for 24 hours, after registering 1,130 over the past week amid intense seismic activity before and after the eruption on the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge.

Also, the advance of the main river of lava slithering toward the sea slowed to 1 meter (about 3 feet) per hour.

Both of the main lava flows are at least 10 meters (33 feet) high at their leading edges and have been destroying houses, farmland and infrastructure in their path since Sunday.

The lava has destroyed almost 400 buildings on La Palma, including many homes, on the western side of the island of 85,000 people, a European Union monitoring program said.

It said the lava stretches over 180 hectares (almost 20,000 square feet) and has blocked 14 kilometers (9 miles) of roads. Islanders make a living mostly from farming and tourism, and some may lose their livelihoods.

On a visit to La Palma, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a package of measures to help get the island back on its feet and "rebuild lives."

The Spanish government will provide aid for rebuilding homes and public infrastructure, such as roads, irrigation networks and schools, as well as relaunching the island's tourism industry, Sánchez said. He did not say how much money would be made available, but he said a Cabinet meeting next week would provide more details.

Scientists said the lava flows could last for weeks or months.

Evacuations Volcano
A volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands continues to produce explosions and spew lava, five days after it erupted. Above, residents look from a hill as lava continues to flow on the island of La Palma on September 24, 2021. Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo