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La Palma volcano continues to roar as expert urges people to 'stay away from lava'

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By Josephine Joly  & Tokunbo Salako
Lava and ashes from a volcano eruption flow on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021
Lava and ashes from a volcano eruption flow on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

The Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to roar as rivers of lava flow down the hillsides of La Palma after the volcano erupted on Sunday.

More than 6,000 people have been evacuated to safety as a new volcanic vent blew open, spewing thousands of tonnes of molten rock, volcanic ash and toxic gases into the air.

The small town of Todoque is the latest to be consumed by the lava.

"There are a lot of people who think this is a show, but this is not. There are people here who are losing their homes. I feel lucky because I have not lost mine, which is a bit far from the affected area. But there are people who take this as if it were a joke and what I'm saying is that you have to have a little consideration, too," one of the residents said.

According to the European Union's Earth Observation Programme, the lava has already destroyed 106 hectares of land, and 1,000 homes are believed to be destroyed.

Experts predict the cost of the destruction will amount to €400 million.

Karen Fontijn, an associate professor in Volcanology at the Université libre de Bruxelles, advises people to stay away from the lava flows.

"Our Spanish colleagues are really making a lot of effort to monitor the situation very carefully. The monitoring capacity on the islands has really increased in recent years in terms of instruments that are being installed, but also in terms of staff members," Fontijn said.

"There's a whole team right now who is really carefully monitoring the situation and that will provide regular updates as the situation evolves. So it's important for people to continue watching the advice from the authorities and also the vulcanology observatory," she added.

However, the volcanologist doesn't believe there will be a cascading effect on some of the other islands, adding that "what the volcano is doing at the moment is its normal activity, its normal behaviour".

"It is one of the most active volcanos in the Canary Islands. And in the past, there has not really been a knock-on effect on the other islands."

Fontijn believes nature will slowly but steadily come back, and people will eventually be able to build houses again, on top of the lava flows.

"It will, of course, be a matter of cleaning up to some extent. Some of the roads will have to be made available again. There will be a lot of infrastructure damage to the houses that have been engulfed by the lava. But slowly and steadily, things will go back to normal."

Watch the full interview with our anchor Tokunbo Salako in the video player above.