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.

The lava destroyed at least four buildings in the village of Callejon de la Gata, Reuters witnesses said.

There were a series of 37 seismic movements on Saturday, with the largest measuring 4.1, the Spanish National Geological Institute said.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on Sept. 19 and has destroyed more than 800 buildings and forced the evacuation of about 6,000 people from their homes on the island. La Palma, with a population of about 83,000, is one of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

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

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.

The lava from the volcano has engulfed over 150 hectares (370 acres) of farm land, most of it used for the cultivation of bananas that are one of the main crops on the island.

La Palma’s airport has been closed since Thursday because of ash, Spanish air traffic operator Aena said. but the other airports in the archipelago remained open.

Officials say the molten rock from the crater is now flowing down a so-called lava tube beneath earlier, hardened lava, straight into the sea. 

The lava tube has eased fears it could spread wider and cause more destruction.

 

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