Villagers on the island of La Palma – part of the Canary Islands archipelago – were met with a wall of lava up to 40 feet high on Wednesday following Sunday afternoon’s eruption.
Authorities warned Tuesday that threats, like lava flows, ash, toxic gases, acid rain and earthquakes, were expected to continue following several small tremors.
The people of La Palma – a population of 85,000 – were kept at least 1.25 miles away from the area as rivers of lava continued to roll down hills and 1,000 people were evacuated late Tuesday from Todoque.
Thus far, the eruption has destroyed hundreds of buildings, though the lava’s advance has slowed as it heads toward the Atlantic Ocean.
While the more than 1,800-degree-Fahrenheit lava with water could cause explosions and produce toxic gas, the volcano has also been producing thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide and new cracks in the earth cannot be ruled out, according to Canary Islands Volcanology Institute head Nemesio Pérez.
No casualties have been reported from the eruption but scientists say lava flows could last for weeks or even months.
Firefighting crews have worked tirelessly to try to open a trench to divert and the lava flow and save as many houses as possible.
Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are scheduled to visit the area on Thursday.
Sunday’s event was the second volcanic eruption in 50 years for the island and was preceded by a 4.2-magnitude earthquake after researchers detected a swarm of more than 20,000 small earthquakes occurring the week before.
The last eruption on the island was in 1971 and lasted for more than three weeks.