Lava engulfs more buildings, land on Spanish island of La Palma

Buildings near the volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma were engulfed by rivers of lava early on Saturday, with the drama of the red-hot eruption intensified by the spectacle of flashes of lightning.

Lightning flashes also seen near eruption on island

The Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to erupt Saturday on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. (Juan Medina/Reuters)

Red-hot lava engulfed the land Jose Roberto Sanchez inherited from his parents on Saturday, and lightning flashed around the rim of the volcano that has been erupting on the Spanish island of La Palma for almost three weeks.

There were 37 seismic movements on Saturday, with the largest measuring 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said, but La Palma's airport reopened after being closed since Thursday because of ash, Spanish air traffic operator Aena said. All other Canary Islands airports are open.

The magma streaming down the hillside from the Cumbre Vieja volcano destroyed at least four village buildings, some of the nearly 1,150 buildings and surrounding land destroyed since the volcano began erupting on Sept. 19.

"The memories of my parents, the inheritance I had there, it's all gone," Sanchez told Reuters of the land his parents owned in Todoque, in the west of the island.

The flow of lava destroyed at least four buildings in the village of Callejon de la Gata on the Spanish island. (Reuters-TV)

Lava has engulfed 493 hectares of land — most of it used for the cultivation of bananas, which are one of the main crops on the island, said Miguel Ãngel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) organization.

Some people, like Clara Maria, 70, who also lives in Todoque, have so far escaped the impact.

"The lava has not yet reached my house. [It] was 50 years of sacrifice, stone by stone we built it. I have hope and faith that it will be saved," she said.

A man carries groceries from a supermarket on Saturday as a volcano continues to erupt in El Paso, on the island of La Palma, Spain. (Daniel Roca/The Associated Press)

About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on La Palma, which has about 83,000 inhabitants.

Lightning flashes were seen near the eruption early on Saturday. A study published in 2016 by the journal Geophysical Research Letters found lightning can be produced during volcanic eruptions because the collision of ash particles creates an electrical charge.

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