The damage caused by the volcano that appeared in Cumbre Vieja, La Palma, increases with each passing hour. If last Sunday, the day on which it erupted after 3:00 p.m. (Canarian time), the news focus was on the spectacular nature of the event, this Thursday, almost 100 hours later, the human drama has dyed the island in black and at archipelago, focused on helping palm trees and palm trees. According to the latest update provided after the last meeting of the members of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), the houses destroyed by the irrepressible wall of lava, which reaches 500 meters wide and more than 12 high in some points, They are already more than 300, which considerably raises the 400 million euros in damages estimated just two days ago. The main wash progresses at about 4 meters per hour, so, insists Pevolca, it is not expected to reach the sea today or tomorrow.
In the bowels of the volcano that buried more than 300 properties on La Palma
The slowdown of the casting is due to the fact that “it is increasingly difficult to move forward” because it loses temperature as it moves away from the cone, and because it has to go through the “large volume” of material already deposited, which has also cooled on the surface. . “But even slowly, progress continues,” he warned.
The Pevolca spokesperson and director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canary Islands, María José Blanco, indicated at a press conference shortly after 2:15 p.m. that the seismic tremor continues with intensity and that no magma has been emptied in the crater of the volcano, so the eruption is still very active. “It is in a very explosive phase,” with large accumulations of gas, he explained.
María José Blanco has also referred to the huge ash cloud found in the sky of La Palma. This has reached 3,500 meters in height, so it has affected air operations during the morning of this Thursday. However, at this time acid rain is ruled out on the islands.
Despite the threat posed by that cloud, the island’s airport has remained operating, with flight delays, yes, but without cancellations so far. This has allowed the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to arrive on the island, among others, after participating in the United Nations summit in New York, and Kings Felipe VI and Letizia. Together they came as soon as they landed to visit the people who are sheltered in the El Fuerte barracks. They were also accompanied there by the president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, and the mayor of Breña de Baja, Borja Pérez Sicilia.
The kings have also attended the meeting of the Pevolca scientific committee and it is expected that they will also visit the advanced command post today, as well as a reception point for evicted people in Los Llanos de Aridane.
Although the airspace is open, the Government Delegation in the Canary Islands has requested Enaire to create two restricted areas of airspace in the vicinity of La Palma airport to facilitate emergency operations. Only State security forces and bodies, emergency services, State aircraft and those duly authorized may enter, but Enaire has stressed that this restriction does not affect commercial flights.
It is precisely the ash, apart from the lava, that is causing the greatest problems in the vicinity of the volcano. The accumulated sediments already form a layer of more than 3 centimeters and the authorities have issued recommendations to the population to minimize its impact. For example, removal from surfaces susceptible to bending due to weight, doors and windows closed and damp towels placed in the cracks, pets not allowed outside, livestock water changed or protect from the air, do not drive, unless it is essential as it is very slippery, and do not collect food from outside, such as fruits and vegetables, without washing.
The number of evacuees on the island exceeds 6,000. The first to leave their homes, even before the volcano erupted, were the dependent people. It was last Sunday, when they were transferred to the El Fuerte barracks, in Breña Baja. The Cabildo de La Palma has informed today that these people will be rehoused in tourist establishments or in social and health centers, in the case of dependents.
The insular counselor of Social Action, Nieves Hernández, has emphasized that these evicted people have received “a social, psychological and health response”, in cooperation between the municipalities of Breña Baja, El Paso, Los Llanos; the Cabildo de La Palma, the Canary Islands Health Service and the Red Cross.
And in the meantime, more than 300 houses have been destroyed by lava on its way to the coast. Four days after the eruption began, the question arises of how people who have lost their properties will be able to regain their homes, farms and other real estate. As a solution, at least temporary, the Minister of Public Works, Transport and Housing of the Government of the Canary Islands, Sebastián Franquis, announced this Thursday that his department is already managing the acquisition of a total of 257 newly built homes, finished or about to be completed. to face the housing emergency of hundreds of families who have been left homeless.
These houses will be joined by another 23 homes of a new promotion that the Canary Housing Institute (ICAVI) is finalizing in the municipality of El Paso and that it will give up to face this housing emergency. The public company Visocan, dependent on the Ministry, is already carrying out an analysis on the ground to locate and contact all the owners of empty homes on the island at the moment to try to relocate the evacuees there by buying these properties .
In addition, Visocan staff have also located a dozen more developments that would add at least 150 other homes that could be available by the end of the year or early 2022.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people continue to be cared for in the reception centers set up on the island.