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The lava from La Palma volcanic eruption engulfs housing estate

Several houses were destroyed by the volcanic eruption in La Palma when the volcano became active for the first time in 50 years on September 19.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the lava from the volcano that erupted on the Canary Island of La Palma on Sunday. Thousands of people have been evacuated and the lava continues to flow downhill towards the sea at a rate of about 700 meters per hour.

Spanish Primie Minister Pedro Sánchez canceled a trip to the United States where he would attend the UN General Assembly to instead go to La Palma and oversee operations there. On Monday night, an earthquake at 3.8 on the Richter scale hit La Palma, the strongest since the eruption began on Sunday. Just before the earthquake, a fissure had opened up, forcing more residents to evacuate from Tacande. Around 6,000 people have been evacuated so far.

The president of the La Palma island council, Mariano Hernández Zapata, said that the lava "is literally eating up the houses, infrastructure and crops that it is finding on its path toward the coast in the valley of Aridane.”

As the lava gets closer to reaching the sea, there is some concern of toxic gas emissions. When lava, at around 1,000 degrees Celsius, reaches the sea (around 20 degrees Celsius), the mix of lava and salt water could cause an explosion of water vapor as well as a chemical reaction. This could cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.

An exclusion zone has been determined and security forces will be on land to prevent access to the dangerous area. It's been reported that the eruption could last "several weeks or a few months".