Volcano eruption triggers building collapse in Canary Islands

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The debris in Huehu, near the border with Mexico, is believed to be burned ash and lava fragments At least three people have been injured after a church bell …

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The debris in Huehu, near the border with Mexico, is believed to be burned ash and lava fragments

At least three people have been injured after a church bell tower collapsed when hit by a flow of lava and ash in the Canary Islands.

Coastal geologists said the weight of the build-up of ash fell on the tower, known as a bell shed, and it fell down with a loud bang.

It was the first building collapse from the fissure on the coast, 900km (560 miles) from the capital, Las Palmas.

At least six people died when the volcano erupted last week.

Coastal geologists say the lava and ash continue to flow and it is unlikely that any buildings will be spared this time.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Smoke rises over the volcano as lava reacts with clouds of sand and dust

“If the lava is not caught by the building, it could be 50 metres (160ft) high before it stops flowing,” said Begoña Briquete, the mayor of Fuengirola, one of the Canary Islands.

“It is really strong, all the rims of the houses are bending, from what I can see on the street.”

She says the ash came down, “like snow”, when the debris building up at the entrance to the port of Huehu, near the border with Mexico, hit the bell shed.

“It really affected the people,” she told Reuters news agency.

Image copyright AP Image caption The collapse of the bell shed is the latest in a series of shocks to hit the area

A spokeswoman for the Civil Protection Agency in Las Palmas said the damage was not as extensive as it had been feared, but added that it was difficult to predict when the lava might stop flowing.

Local geologists said this week that the signs of a fresh eruption on the island of Tiputa de las Zarrazas began about 24 hours after a lava flow had ceased the previous day.

Although ash-eating geothermal eruptions are rare, Huehu is one of the Canary Islands’ 15 active volcanoes, and is only three km away from Laguna Colorado on mainland Antsana, one of the largest cones on the planet.

A hazardous zone is warning people to stay 10 metres (33ft) away from the crater, which sits within the normal topography of the area.

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