Lava from La Palma volcano flows into sea with fears toxic gases will be released

Lava flowing from a volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma has reached the sea as experts fear it could trigger explosions and release toxic gases.

After 10 days of destroying everything in its path, including hundreds of homes, the lava stream began to flow into the Atlantic Ocean at around 11pm on Tuesday.

Officials have been nervously awaiting the moment the lava from the September 19 eruption reached the Atlantic - but its erratic flow and changes in the terrain had slowed the progress.

But overnight, columns of steam reaching up to 164ft were seen shooting up as the bright red molten rock tumbled into the water, with experts warning the plumes could contain harmful gases.

Experts predict that lava flowing down from Todoque mountain and off Playa del Perdido - ironically named the Lost Beach - has plunged several tens of metres into the water.

Moe than 6,000 residents have been evacuated Credit: AP

Officials have set up a more than two mile security perimeter and told residents in the surrounding areas to remain indoors with windows shut to avoid breathing in the gases.

However, in the long run the lava is expected to be beneficial. Director of the Geosciences Barcelona group of the CSIC, Joan Martí told local media that eventually the ecosystem in the area will reproduce and become more enriched than it was previously.

The lava has destroyed more than 589 buildings and 13 miles of roads on the Spanish volcanic island.

Most of the buildings engulfed in lava were homes on the Spanish island's southwestern side that were on a slope below the volcano.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported thanks to the prompt evacuations of more than 6,000 people in the first hours after last week's eruption.

Residents clean the ash from the street in Santa Cruz de la Palma Credit: AP

Cleaning crews and residents have spent days sweeping black ash coating the streets in the capital of Santa Cruz.

La Palma's airport remains closed as a huge ash cloud reached almost 230ft, Spain’s National Geographic Institute said.

The lava could possibly trigger explosions and the release of toxic gas after reaching the sea Credit: Guardia Civil/AP

However, Laura Garcés, the director of Spain air navigation authority ENAIRE, said that she does not foresee any major problems for other airports on the archipelago or major air routes.

Days after the volcanic eruption, the lava has now reached the sea Credit: AP

La Palma, home to about 85,000 people, is part of the volcanic Canary Islands, an archipelago off northwest Africa.

The island is roughly 22 miles long and 12 miles wide at its broadest point.