Tuesday, October 19

La Palma tries to learn to live under an erupting volcano that changes every night


Nobody knows when the eruption of La Palma will end. This Sunday, at 3:10 p.m., it was two weeks since the lava began to engulf the memories and homes of hundreds of families, as well as the crops of dozens of farmers. In these fourteen days, the volcano has already spit out more than 80 million cubic meters of volcanic material and has never tired of roaring. Meanwhile, the neighbors who live in the vicinity of the catastrophe try to continue with their lives with solidarity as a flag. Since September 19, the news about the eruption has not disappeared from the televisions of all the coffee shops in Los Llanos de Aridane or El Paso. But this Sunday, music or sports have replaced information for a few minutes in many of the bars in the area.

When it gets dark, silence takes over the streets and the din is felt more and more strongly. Tonight, the main cone has partially collapsed and its morphology has changed. Scientists had already foreseen this scenario. It is part of the process, since “the entire mountain” that the new volcano has created is material that has not consolidated, formed by pyroclasts or lava that has cooled.

The palm trees and palm trees “will never be able to recover” from the effects of this eruption, much more catastrophic than those experienced by the island in San Juan (1949) and Teneguía (1971), according to farmer Juan Vicente, a neighbor from El Fronton who has lost his home. Yet everyone clings to the relief that no personal injury has been regretted.

When the vehicles cross the tunnel of the road to the summit, which connects Los Llanos de Aridane with Santa Cruz de La Palma, they seem to be leaving behind the chaos generated by the volcano. Tanausú lives “on the other side” of the disaster, and although there is “a little more tranquility”, the ash that accumulates in all the corners reminds that no one is saved from the damage of the volcano. ” We are all family here. We all know someone who has lost something, ” says the palm tree, who walks through a park with his partner and son.

Since the afternoon of this Saturday, scientists have detected an increase in the explosive activity of the La Palma volcano, but with levels lower than those registered from September 24 to 26, when the authorities had to urgently evacuate several population centers for fear that the volcanic cone would crumble.

This Monday, at the daily press conference offered by different authorities of the steering committee of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) since the volcano’s eruption began on September 19, Carmen López, the director of the Central Geophysical Observatory of the Geographical Institute Nacional (IGN), also said that an increase in the volcanic tremor has been noticed in the last hours, that is, the vibrations related to the volcano.

The director of the Pevolca Technical Committee, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, clarified that the air quality measured in the municipalities near the eruption (Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Tazacorte) is good and does not represent any risk to the population. However, several scientists who work in the vicinity of the wash taking samples have had to be evacuated because the air quality in those spaces “was not the best.”

The lava that emerged from the last two emitting points of the volcanic eruption on La Palma runs as a single stream to the west towards the sea, parallel to the main river that has formed a 28-hectare strip. According to satellite data from Copernicus, the La Palma eruption had affected more than 1,000 buildings until dawn this Sunday, of which 945 have been destroyed and 128 are damaged or at risk of being destroyed. They are mostly houses, but also tool rooms, warehouses and other facilities. The area covered by lava amounts to 397.5 hectares and the ash reaches 4,819 hectares. The volcano has also affected the road network in the southern part of the island: 33.2 kilometers are unused, of which 30.7 have been destroyed by lava.

Most of the evacuees are staying with friends or relatives. 205 of the more than 5,500 people who have been evacuated during this volcanic crisis are staying in a hotel in Fuencaliente. It is precisely there that the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, moved this Sunday after announcing that the Council of Ministers will approve this Tuesday a “very powerful” item of more than 206 million euros for tax benefits, reconstruction of infrastructure, employment, agriculture, tourism, as well as to respond to the problem of water supply. These grants are in addition to the 10.5 million for homes and basic necessities approved by the Executive last week, when La Palma was declared a Seriously Affected Area by Civil Protection Emergency.

Of those 10.5 million, the leader of the regional Executive, Ángel Víctor Torres, explained that half will go to the purchase of household goods and the other half to the acquisition of homes. In the next week, the Board of Directors of the public company Visocan will formalize the purchase of about twenty houses for people who have lost the only house they had due to the volcano. In total, Torres has ensured that some 40 million euros of emergency regional funds are mobilized, which are allocated to companies, employment, agricultural irrigation, the primary sector or road infrastructure.

To solve the breakage of the last irrigation connection in the El Remo area, two desolate plants acquired by the regional government for four million euros will arrive on Monday at La Palma.

” You sleep little and you suffer a lot. The volcano is extremely aggressive and we have to continue responding to this emergency situation, ” Torres stressed this Sunday. The Canarian president also wanted to acknowledge the responsible response of the palm trees that “respond to the recommendations of the security forces and bodies.”

Sánchez also joined in this recognition, highlighting the “commitment, courage and lesson in civics” that La Palma has given. “That we have not had to regret any personal injury in two weeks of the eruption is due to the exemplary behavior of the palm trees and palm trees.”

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