‘My whole life in a van’: Islanders flee Spanish volcano

Lava from a volcano eruption flows on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Tuesday. A dormant volcano on a small Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean erupted on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Huge plumes of black-and-white smoke shot out from a volcanic ridge where scientists had been monitoring the accumulation of molten lava below the surface. (AP photo)

TODOQUE, Canary Islands — A wall of lava up to 40 feet high bore down on a Spanish village Wednesday as islanders scrambled to save what they could before the molten rock swallowed up their homes following a volcanic eruption.

The lava still spewing from Sunday’s eruption in the Canary Islands off northwest Africa advanced slowly down hillsides to the coast, where Todoque was the last village between the molten rock and the Atlantic Ocean.

The lava could take several days to cover the remaining 1.25 miles to the sea, experts said, but authorities and locals were taking no chances amid the unpredictable seismic activity.

Residents hoping to save some belongings queued up so they could be escorted into the village. The lava was advancing in the distance at around 400 feet an hour, with smoke coming from its leading edge as it destroyed everything it touched.

Javier Lopez said his house for the past three decades appeared to be in the lava’s path. He and his relatives had been staying at a friend’s house with the few documents, photos and basic belongings they had been able to take when they were evacuated on Monday.

“I’ve put my whole life in a van,” Lopez told The Associated Press as he waited for his turn to try to recover a vehicle he had left behind and other valuables.

“This is probably going to be the last time I see my home,” he said. “Or, in the best-case scenario, the house will remain isolated by the lava and inaccessible for who knows how long.”


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