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Lava from La Palma eruption has burned almost 400 structures so far

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Slow-moving lava from a volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands has so far destroyed close to 400 structures this week and 500 acres, authorities said in an update Friday.

The eruption, which began Sunday, is still spewing lava from fissures in the ground -- but the spread has slowed and seismic activity has reduced, according to Maria Jose Blanco, director of Spain's National Geographic Institute.

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Blanco told The Canary News that the front of the lava flow is about 1,600 feet wide at some parts and rises as high as 40 feet.

Columns of gas and smoke have climbed as high as 14,000 feet, officials said, and several miles of roads have been destroyed.

The eruption is the first major explosion on La Palma in 50 years. Some researchers believe the lava might continue flowing for several weeks.

"The main uncertainty is how long this will last," said Arnau Folch, a volcanologist at the Spanish National Research Council, according to The New York Times. "It seems that what is happening now will resemble pretty closely what happened 50 years ago."

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Folch said the 1971 eruption on La Palma lasted for about three weeks.

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