Nearly 6,000 people have been displaced, and flights have been cancelled as the volcano entered a new explosive phase, Spanish authorities on the Canary island said.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano is seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary island of La Palma, September 25, 2021.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano is seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary island of La Palma, September 25, 2021. (AFP)

Rivers of lava raced down the Cumbre Vieja volcano and exploded high into the air overnight on the Spanish island of La Palma and the airport was closed as an eruption intensified and entered its most explosive phase so far.

Since it began erupting on Sunday on the small island in the Atlantic, volcano has spewed out thousands of tons of lava, destroyed hundreds of houses and forced the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people.

Authorities said on Saturday that the 160 people evacuated from three more towns on Friday would not be able to return to their homes to retrieve their belongings because of the "evolution of the volcanic emergency".

Experts said the volcano had entered a new explosive phase.

"Volcanic surveillance measurements carried out since the beginning of the eruption recorded the highest-energy activity so far during Friday afternoon," emergency services said in a statement on Friday evening.

READ MORE: Volcano erupts on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands

Spanish airport operator Aena said on Saturday the island's airport had been closed.

"La Palma airport is inoperative due to ash accumulation. Cleaning tasks have started, but the situation may change at any time," it tweeted.

Eruption threatens homes, jobs

La Palma, with a population of over 83,000, is one of an archipelago making up the Canary Islands.

On Friday, firefighters retreated from clean-up work in the town of Todoque, airlines cancelled flights, and authorities evacuated the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the part of Tacande de Arriba that had not already been evacuated after a new vent opened up in the flank of the volcano.

Videos shared on social media showed a massive shockwave emanating from the eruption site on Friday.

According to the European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, lava has so far destroyed 420 buildings and covered more than 190 hectares (470 acres) of land.

No casualties have been reported so far but about 15 percent of the island's economically crucial banana crop could be at risk, jeopardising thousands of jobs.

READ MORE: Lava destroys dozens of Canary Island homes as volcano erupts

Source: TRTWorld and agencies