Residents on the island of La Palma were struck a new blow when lava flow engulfed a cemetery during a sudden magma surge and covered the graves of 3,000 people forever.

It was an event that grieving relatives had feared with some lobbying authorities to exhume graves and transfer remains to a safe place before the lava river wrought its destruction.

However, 68 days after the eruption started, the Las Manchas cemetery was finally swallowed up and with it the graves and niches belonging to some 3,000 former residents of Los Llanos de Aridane and neighbouring towns.

Footage recorded on Thursday shows the cemetery, which had for weeks been covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash, disappearing under molten magma following a power surge in emissions from the main mouth of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

One local resident expressed the desolation felt by the community at the loss of the cemetery.

“It’s taken away the house, the bananas, the land,” said Maria de los Angeles in an interview broadcast on Telecinco.

“And now we have lost the cemetery, which feels even worse . That is where my parents were buried,” she sobbed.

Another neighbour added: “It’s the place where we found comfort where we felt close to those we had lost. I will never again be able to lay flowers for my grandmother.”

The volcano which began erupting on September 19 currently shows no sign of easing and is already thought to be the longest lasting eruption on the island for several hundred years.

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