MADRID (AP) — An erupting volcano on a Spanish island off northwest Africa blew open another fissure on its hillside Friday as authorities recorded eight new earthquakes up to magnitude 3.5.
The new fissure is the third to crack open since the Cumbre Vieja crater erupted on La Palma island on Sept. 19. The prompt evacuation of more than 6,000 people so far has prevented casualties.
Authorities were waiting to see whether lava from the new fissure would join the main flow, which has reached the Atlantic Ocean.
Officials were monitoring air quality along the shoreline where the molten rock meets the ocean. Sulfur dioxide levels in the area rose but did not represent a health threat, La Palma’s government said.
However, it advised local residents to stay indoors. It also recommended that people on the island wear face masks and eye protection against heavy falls of volcanic ash.
The lava has so far hit more than 1,000 buildings, including homes and farming infrastructure, and entombed around 338 hectares (835 acres).
La Palma, home to about 85,000 people who live mostly from fruit farming and tourism, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa that is part of Spain’s territory.
The island is roughly 35 kilometers (22 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide at its broadest point. Life has continued as usual on most of the island while the volcano is active.