Volcanic lava on the island of La Palma consumes more and more homes

Buildings near a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma were consumed by rivers of lava early Saturday morning, with the drama of the volcanic eruption heightened by flashes of lightning.

The magma destroyed at least four buildings in the village of Callejón de la Gata, witnesses reported.

A series of 37 seismic shocks occurred Saturday, the largest of which was 4.1, Spain’s National Geological Institute said.

Since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on Sept. 19, it has destroyed nearly 1,150 buildings and consumed 480 hectares (1,190 acres) of land, the European Commission’s Copernicus Emergency Management Service tweeted Saturday.

About 6,000 people were evacuated from their homes on the island of La Palma, which is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and has about 83,000 residents.

Lightning flashes were seen near the eruption early Saturday.

A 2016 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that lightning can occur during volcanic eruptions because the collision of ash particles creates an electrical charge.

Airlines flying to the Canary Islands have been advised to load extra fuel in case planes have to change course or delay landing because of the ash, said a spokesman for Enaire, which controls navigation in Spanish airspace.

La Palma airport has been closed since Thursday because of the ash, Spanish air traffic operator Aena (AENA.MC) said, but other airports in the archipelago remained open.

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