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Added: Sakia Cade - Date: A massive cloud of ash prevented flights in and out of the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday as molten rock continued to be flung high into the air from an erupting volcano.
A Spanish island volcano that has buried more than buildings and displaced over 6, people since last week lessened its activity on Monday, although scientists warned that it was too early to declare the eruption phase finished. The plume of ash emerging from the main vent stopped in the early hours of Monday. But the column of ash and volcanic material returned after a two-hour hiatus.
The La Palma island's authorities advised residents in four neighborhoods to remain indoors to avoid toxic gases that could be released as a result of hot lava meeting cooler Atlantic Ocean water. The plume of ash emerging from the main vent that opened on Sept. The archipelago's volcanology institute published graphs showing a sharp decline in seismic activity in the area.
Experts were also on alert as the swarm of quakes that preceded and accompanied Spain's first volcanic eruption on land in half a century moved south, with more activity detected in the island's Fuencaliente area, Spain's National Geographic Institute said. Meanwhile, the island's authorities advised residents in four neighborhoods to remain indoors to avoid toxic gases that could be released as a result of lava at more than 1, degrees Celsius 1, Fahrenheit meeting Atlantic Ocean water at a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius. Scientists say that the thermal shock in the release of water vapor plumes loaded with hydrochloric acid and tiny particles of volcanic glass that can cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation.
Shopkeepers and residents were also sweeping the layer of ash that had fallen over the island's capital, Santa Cruz de Las Palmas, after winds dispersed the volcano's cloud the day before. The speed of the flow had increased since Sunday as a result of more fluid lava descending down a sharp slope toward cliffs onto the sea.
The flow was some meters from reaching the water early on Monday, authorities said. More than hectares have been buried by the lava, which has destroyed over 18 kilometers of ro, according to Copernicus, the EU's satellite monitoring service. The molten rock has destroyed houses, schools, churches and health centers, as well as irrigation infrastructure for the island's banana plantations, which provide nearly one-third of the island's jobs. La Palma, home to about 85, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa.
The island is roughly 35 kilometers 22 miles long and 20 kilometers 12 miles wide at its broadest point. Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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