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Lava from La Palma volcano reaches ocean

·1-min read

Red-hot lava from a volcano that devastated the Spanish island of La Palma has reached the Atlantic Ocean, nine days after it started to flow down the mountains, wrecking buildings and destroying crops.

Reuters images late on Tuesday evening showed clouds of white steam billowing up from the Playa Nueva area.

Officials had warned of possible explosions and clouds of toxic gases when the lava reaches the sea.

"When the lava reaches the sea, the lockdown must be strictly observed," Miguel Angel Morcuende, director of the Pevolca response committee, said earlier on Tuesday.

Lava has been flowing down the volcano's western flank toward the sea since September 19, destroying almost 600 houses and banana plantations in La Palma, which neighbours Tenerife in the Canary Islands archipelago off the North African coast.

Thousands have been evacuated and three coastal villages were locked down on Monday in anticipation of the lava meeting the Atlantic Ocean.

Spain classified La Palma as a disaster zone on Tuesday, a move that will trigger financial support for the island.

The government announced a first package of 10.5 million euros ($A17 million), which includes about five million euros to buy houses, with the rest to acquire furniture and essential household goods, government spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said.

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