Strongest quake since volcano erupted shakes Spanish island

Military Emergency Unit personal clear black ash from volcano as it continues to erupt lava behind a church on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on Wednesday Oct. 13, 2021. A new lava stream from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on its way toward the Atlantic Ocean. Island authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 800 people from a section of the coastal town on Tuesday after the lava took a new course and put their homes in its probable path of destruction. (AP Photo/Saul Santos)
Caption
Military Emergency Unit personal clear black ash from volcano as it continues to erupt lava behind a church on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on Wednesday Oct. 13, 2021. A new lava stream from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on its way toward the Atlantic Ocean. Island authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 800 people from a section of the coastal town on Tuesday after the lava took a new course and put their homes in its probable path of destruction. (AP Photo/Saul Santos)

Credit: Saul Santos

Credit: Saul Santos

A 4.5-magnitude earthquake has shaken Spain’s La Palma island off northwest Africa in what was the strongest recorded since a local volcano began erupting 26 days ago

MADRID (AP) — A 4.5-magnitude earthquake shook La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands in what was the strongest recorded temblor since volcanic eruptions began 26 days ago, authorities said Thursday.

The quake was one of around 60 recorded overnight, Spain’s National Geographic Institute said, as the Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to spew fiery rivers of lava that are destroying everything in their path and dumping molten rock into the Atlantic Ocean.

The lava has partially or completely destroyed more than 1,600 buildings, about half of them houses, officials said, though prompt evacuations have so far prevented any deaths. Around 7,000 people have had to abandon their homes, 300 of them Thursday.

“This is definitely the most serious eruption in Europe of the past 100 years,” Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said.

“The only good news is that...so far, nobody has been hurt,” he said.

The flow from three rivers of molten rock broadened to almost 1.8 kilometers (just over a mile), the La Palma government said, but their advance has slowed to a crawl.

Hard, black lava now covers 674 hectares (1,665 acres) on the western side of the island, authorities said, though most of la Palma is unaffected.

Authorities advised locals against traveling by car because volcanic ash was ankle-deep in some places. The volcano's plume was 2,600 meters (about 8,500 feet) high as of Thursday.

La Palma is part of Spain’s Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of the Canary plantain.

A volcano continues to erupt lava behind a shrine on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on Wednesday Oct. 13, 2021. A new lava stream from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on its way toward the Atlantic Ocean. Island authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 800 people from a section of the coastal town on Tuesday after the lava took a new course and put their homes in its probable path of destruction. (AP Photo/Saul Santos)
Caption
A volcano continues to erupt lava behind a shrine on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on Wednesday Oct. 13, 2021. A new lava stream from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on its way toward the Atlantic Ocean. Island authorities have ordered the evacuation of around 800 people from a section of the coastal town on Tuesday after the lava took a new course and put their homes in its probable path of destruction. (AP Photo/Saul Santos)

Credit: Saul Santos

Credit: Saul Santos

Lava from a volcano flows destroying a banana plantation on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. A new river of lava has belched out from the La Palma volcano, spreading more destruction on the Atlantic Ocean island where molten rock streams have already engulfed over 1,000 buildings. The partial collapse of the volcanic cone has sent a new lava stream heading toward the western shore of the island. (AP Photo/Daniel Roca)
Caption
Lava from a volcano flows destroying a banana plantation on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain, on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. A new river of lava has belched out from the La Palma volcano, spreading more destruction on the Atlantic Ocean island where molten rock streams have already engulfed over 1,000 buildings. The partial collapse of the volcanic cone has sent a new lava stream heading toward the western shore of the island. (AP Photo/Daniel Roca)

Credit: Daniel Roca

Credit: Daniel Roca