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Lava From Canary Islands Volcano Eruption Reaches the Atlantic

Steam rises as lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano enters the Atlantic, in La Palma, Spain, on Sept. 29.

Steam rises as lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano enters the Atlantic, in La Palma, Spain, on Sept. 29.

Photographer: Sunsets Sweden/AFP/Getty Images

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Los Llanos De Aridane, Canary Islands (AP) -- A bright red river of lava from the volcano on Spain’s La Palma island finally tumbled over a cliff and into the Atlantic Ocean, setting off huge plumes of steam and possibly toxic gases that forced local residents outside the evacuation zone to remain indoors on Wednesday.

The immediate area had been evacuated for several days as authorities waited for the lava that began erupting Sept. 19 to traverse the 6½ kilometers (four miles) to the island's edge. On the way down from the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge, the lava flows have engulfed at least 656 buildings, mostly homes and farm buildings, in its unstoppable march to the sea.