Nerves on edge on Spanish island as quakes, lava threaten

Nerves on edge on Spanish island as quakes, lava threaten
Several small earthquakes have shaken the Spanish island of La Palma off northwest Africa

Several small earthquakes shook the Spanish island of La Palma off northwest África in the early hours of Tuesday, keeping nerves on edge as rivers of lava continued to flow toward the sea and a new vent blew open on the mountainside.

The new vent is 900 metros (3,000 pés) north of the Cumbre Vieja ridge, where the volcano first erupted on Sunday after a week of thousands of small earthquakes.

That so-called earthquake swarm gave authorities warning that an eruption was likely and allowed more than 5,000 people to be evacuated, avoiding casualties.

The new fissure opened after what the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said was a 3.8-magnitude quake late Monday.

La Palma, with a population of some 85,000 pessoas, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands.

Lava by Tuesday had covered 106 hectares (cerca de 260 acres) of terrain and destroyed 166 houses and other buildings, according to the European Union’s Earth Observation Program, called Copernicus.

Unstoppable rivers of lava, as much as six meters (por pouco 20 pés) high, rolled down hillsides, burning and crushing everything in their path.

The lava was expected it to reach the Atlantic Ocean na terça-feira, where it could cause explosions and produce clouds of toxic gas. Cientistas monitoring the lava measured it at more than 1,000 C (mais que 1,800 F).

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

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