La Palma volcano carnage sparks tsunami fears as satellite pics show river of lava as big as 'three-storey building'

SCIENTISTS fear a volcanic eruption in Tenerife could trigger a huge tsunami that could cause "catastrophic effects".

The warnings come as satellite images show a deadly river of lava with chunks as large a houses.

The collapse over the weekend of part of the volcanic cone sent a flood of bright red lava pouring down from the Cumbre Vieja ridge that burst open on September 19.

The fast-flowing stream carried away huge chunks of lava that had already hardened.

According to the latest data from the European observation system Copernicus, the lava has completely or partially destroyed 1,186 buildings, with 95 more at risk.

Julio Pérez, the regional minister for security on the Canary Islands, said: "We cannot say that we expect the eruption that began 21 days ago to end anytime soon."

But fears are growing that the lava flowing into the sea could cause a tsunami. 

This follows studies assessing the impact of this in the Canary Islands.

A scientific article by Steven Ward, of the University of California, and Simon Day, from the University of London, warns of a possible mega-tsunami from La Palma

They estimated that the giant waves generated by a flank collapse would hit the Moroccan and Spanish coasts in two to three hours.

The wave would then surge across the Atlantic to strike the Brazilian, US and Canadian coasts in nine hours.

Research by CSIC's Geosciences Barcelona also reveals a tsunami risk.

By reconstructing the last major geological cascading event that took place here 180,000 years ago in Al Abrigo when a volcano collapsed, they were able to analyse what would happen. 

This would produce "catastrophic" effects in several parts of the island and trigger a "devastating" landslide and then displace water to produce a tsunami. 

The study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.

This is the third volcanic eruption on La Palma Island, home to 85,000 people, in a century, although the last one dates back to 1971.

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