Canaries volcano lava reaches sea, raising toxic gas fears

Lava from an erupting volcano in the Canary Islands has reached the ocean, volcanologists said, raising fears of toxic gases being released as the molten magma hits the seawater, AFP reports. 

The Spanish archipelago had earlier declared an exclusion zone of two nautical miles around the location the lava was expected to enter the Atlantic and asked residents to stay at home.

"The lava flow has reached the sea at Playa Nueva," the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute (Involcan) said on Twitter Tuesday night.

La Cumbre Vieja volcano, which straddles a southern ridge in La Palma, an island with 85,000 inhabitants, erupted on September 19, spewing out rivers of lava that have slowly crept towards the sea.

Television images showed a stream of glowing lava entering the water, creating a large cloud of smoke.

Residents of several areas of Tazacorte, a village near the coast, were told Monday to stay at home to avoid harm from the release of toxic gases that can take place due to a reaction between the 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) molten lava and water.

On Tuesday afternoon, the slow-moving lava flow, which has varied in speed over the past few days, was still around 800 metres (half a mile) from the coast.

Residents were warned to stay home due to "the possibility that there will be a small shock when the magma enters the seawater, and that this small shock causes vapours which can be toxic," stressed Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca).


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