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Spanish island hit by strongest earthquake since volcano eruption

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MADRID (AP) – A 4.5 magnitude earthquake rocked La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain, in what was the strongest quake on record since volcanic eruptions began 26 days ago, have the authorities announced Thursday.

The earthquake was one of some 60 recorded overnight, said the Spanish National Geographical Institute, as the Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to spew flaming rivers of lava that destroy everything in their path and pour out rock in merger in the Atlantic Ocean.

The flow of three rivers of molten rock has widened to 1.7 kilometers (about one mile), the government of La Palma has said.

The hard, black lava now covers 640 hectares (1,580 acres) in the western part of the island, authorities said, although most of Palma is unaffected.

The lava has partially or completely destroyed more than 1,500 buildings, although rapid evacuations have so far avoided losses. More than 6,000 people have had to leave their homes.

La Palma is part of the Spanish Canary Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northwest Africa whose economy depends on tourism and the cultivation of Canarian plantains.

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