Lava Eruption from Cumbre Vieja Volcano Devours Homes, Prompting Evacuations on La Palma Island
The Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption since 1971 has coerced about 5,000 people to evacuate - including 500 tourists and destroyed hundreds of homes!
The active volcano on the Cumbre Vieja mountain range erupted on September 19, spewing lava and smoke hundreds of meters into the air. The volcanic eruption shrouded houses and forests in magma and sent molten rock towards the Atlantic Ocean over a thinly populated area of La Palma Island, which is the most northwestern island in the Canary’s archipelago.
The lava is destroying everything in its path, although it is mostly flowing in a sparsely inhabited region. Horrifying videos of the eruption showed fountains of red molten lava shooting into the sky as plumes of smoke are visible from across the island.
The authorities have evacuated about 6,000 people to safety from four villages in the path of the volcanic lava. The evacuation of El Paso was commenced after lava began to spew from a new crack in the volcano. Four earthquakes hit the island shortly after the new eruption vent opened.
As nearly 22,000 tremors warned the islanders about the possibility of the eruption authorities began evacuating the nearby areas.
Local officials are worried that the lava could cause a chemical reaction upon reaching the sea, which could cause explosions and the release of noxious gases. In the likelihood of such an occurrence, marine authorities have established an exclusion zone of two nautical miles at sea in the area where the lava flow is headed.
The largest lava flow had entered the town of Todoque on September 21, moving at about 200 meters per hour. Residents raced to save whatever they could from their homes in a two-hour window given by the emergency authorities.
Experts have said that the lava flow could continue for weeks or even months, but can be expected to reach the sea soon. Presently, there have been no casualty reports, but video footage showed lava devouring roads, farms and swimming pools on the island.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has postponed his trip to a UN Summit in New York and has been overseeing ongoing rescue and control operations.
The volcano is located in the south of La Palma Island, which is inhabited by about 80,000 people. According to the Vulcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), the volcanic explosion has released between 7,997 and 10,665 tons of sulphur dioxide per day into the atmosphere, so far.
— Caronte 💀 (@yerayvm) September 20, 2021
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 20, 2021