La Palma, Sept. 29 (BUS): Red-hot lava from a volcano that devastated the Spanish island of La Palma reached the Atlantic late Tuesday evening, nine days after it began flowing down the mountain, destroying buildings and destroying crops.
Large clouds of white steam rose from the Playa Nueva area as lava contacted the ocean, according to Reuters images. Pictures circulated on social media showed lava accumulating near a cliff.
Officials said lava flowing into the sea could lead to explosions and clouds of toxic gases, and the Canary Islands emergency service urged those outdoors to find a safe place immediately. No injuries were reported, according to Reuters.
“When the lava reaches the sea, the closure must be strictly observed,” Miguel Angel Morquinde, director of the Pevolca Response Committee, said earlier on Tuesday.
Lava has been pouring down the western side of Cumbre Vieja volcano into the sea since Sept. 19, destroying nearly 600 homes and banana plantations in La Palma, adjacent to Tenerife in the Canary Islands archipelago off the coast of North Africa.
Thousands of people were evacuated and three coastal villages were closed on Monday in anticipation of lava meeting with the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain designated La Palma on Tuesday as a disaster area, in a move that will lead to financial support for the island.
Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said the government announced a first package of 10.5 million euros ($12.3 million), which includes about 5 million euros for the purchase of homes, and the rest for the purchase of furniture and essential household goods.
A resident who was evacuated last week from the village of Tacande de Arriba was delighted to find his home still standing and his pet cats intact.
“It feels good and it feels great,” said Gert Wigirl, 75, who escaped from the advancing lava with his five turtles on Friday.
“I am very happy because in the end, everything went well.”