Volcanic eruption on La Palma: Lava again beats hundreds in flight

Status: October 21, 2021 3:32 p.m.

On the Canary Island of La Palma, hundreds of people again had to be brought to safety because of the volcanic eruption – a total of around 7500 inhabitants are now affected. According to experts, the outbreak could last for months.

The volcano, which has been spewing lava and ash for over a month, has again put hundreds of people to flight on the Canary Island of La Palma. The Pevolca Emergency Committee ordered the evacuation of several villages in the municipalities of Tazacorte and Los Llanos de Aridane during the night. As Juan Miguel Rodríguez, the mayor of the coastal town of Tazacorte, told RTVE, the rescue services helped around 500 people to leave their homes.

The National Geographic Institute of Spain reported dozen earthquakes throughout the day, the most violent with a magnitude of 4.3. Since the eruption of the volcano in the south of the Spanish island off the west coast of Africa, around 7,500 people have had to be brought to safety. That is almost ten percent of all almost 85,000 residents of La Palma. Many of them will never be able to return to their houses destroyed and buried by the lava.

“There is a certain amount of despair”

The tension of not knowing if the slow-moving molten rock will bury their homes, farmland, and businesses is troubling people, Rodríguez added. “There is already a certain amount of despondency and despair. We are waiting for the volcano to calm down.” According to scientists, the outbreak could last three months.

Since the volcano on the Cumbre Vieja mountain range became active again on September 19 for the first time in 50 years, the lava has already destroyed 2,185 buildings, according to the European Earth observation system Copernicus. Accordingly, the area covered by a meter-thick layer of lava increased by more than 54 hectares to a total of over 866 hectares in the past 48 hours. That corresponds to the size of approx. 1200 soccer fields.

The center of La Laguna is in danger

The lava flows meanwhile continue to threaten the center of the municipality of La Laguna. The hot mass of up to 1270 degrees came very close to the town center on its way to the sea. The approximately 1650 residents of La Laguna were not in danger, because they had already been evacuated from their homes last week as a precaution.

Depending on the course, the lava could destroy hundreds of houses as well as an old church and the community’s school, as Pevolca boss Miguel Ángel Morcuende explained. But there is still reason to hope that the lava south of La Laguna will flow past the town center, he emphasized. A gas station and a supermarket as well as numerous houses outside the village have already been covered by the lava.

The economy of La Palma, which belongs to the Canary Islands of Spain, is mainly based on tourism and the banana plantations. The Spanish government has pledged millions of euros to rebuild the damaged infrastructure.


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