AUTHORITIES ordered three more towns on the island of La Palma to be evacuated as volcanic explosions intensified forcing firefighter teams to retreat to safety.

Meanwhile, airlines cancelled flights to the island amid the growing danger from a huge cloud full of gas and ash.

Firefighters were forced to leave the town of Todoque on Friday afternoon as a new vent opened up in the flank of the volcano.

Footage showed a massive shockwave emanating out from the eruption site.

“The volcano is in a newly explosive phase…Firefighters will not operate anymore today,” tweeted the Tenerife fire service, which has been deployed to help on La Palma.

Authorities on Friday also ordered the evacuation of the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and Tacande de Arriba after initially warning residents to stay indoors and close doors and windows.

But authorities decided there was a heightened risk from explosions from ash and lava fragments as the eruption entered a new phase and told residents of those towns to gather at the local football ground.

Since the eruption began at 3.12pm on Sunday, the Cumbre Vieja volcano has spewed out thousands of tons of lava, destroyed hundreds of houses and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

By Friday afternoon, at least 390 buildings had been crushed and 15km of roads destroyed with lava covering over 240 hectares.

The lava is crawling slowly towards the sea, but is still 2km from the coast with experts fearing it may not reach there and instead pool on land therefore destroying a wider area.

No serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.

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