Juan Vicente Rodríguez looks for his house from the Tajuya viewpoint with binoculars. The house has survived the eruption of La Palma these thirteen days, but after the appearance of two new mouths, the farmer loses hope. “At the moment I don’t know what condition it is in, but I’m probably going to lose it,” he says. Rodríguez is with his brother-in-law, who has already lost everything. The incessant ash rain floods almost the entire island, and the gas cloud spreads through the areas near the main cone. “People are never going to forget this. It’s going to be very strong drama. We haven’t woken up yet, but when it stops roaring this is going to be hard on everyone. They are many memories, ”says the owner of a house that is 735 meters from the volcano.
The new casting advances about 450 meters from the beginning of the original casting, “but looking for unity,” explained the members of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca). This wash passed the LP-212 highway this morning and is evolving towards lower levels.
“I thought that when the lava reached the sea, everything would be over, but I see that it would not,” says Keibis, a clerk in a bazaar in Tazacorte, the municipality where the collision between the wash and the water occurred. Meanwhile, another worker does not stop removing the ash from the entrance of the store. The technical director of Pevolca, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, explained that the volcano continues with intense activity. The new mouths “are emitting effusive lava that advances taking advantage of the favorable topography”, approaching the initial wash that reached the sea. With these two new emission centers, there are four active mouths.
Juan Vicente Rodríguez never thought that the volcano was going to erupt, despite the seismic swarm that preceded it and that left several tremors felt by the population. “I said they were exaggerated holding meetings, knocking on doors, evicting people, but I was wrong.” But on September 19, while he was on the couch watching TV, he felt the outbreak and left with his partner and children to the home of a relative in Los Llanos de Aridane.
“My house was the dream of anyone who lives in the country,” he says. After leaving it, he went to collect his vehicles. But in this moment I have understood something very important. The material is worth nothing. The luxury items you have there are no longer worth it, then you won’t remember ”, he confesses.
According to the latest data from the Copernicus satellite, the Earth Observation Program of the European Union, the pouring has already affected 1,005 buildings, 870 in full and 135 in part. In addition, it has damaged 27.7 kilometers of road. The affected area, as reported by Pevolca, exceeds 246 hectares, with a perimeter of 26.2 kilometers and a maximum width of 900 meters. “This area can represent between 8% and 10% of La Palma”, they add.
Air quality on the island of La Palma “is within healthy and breathable limits”, concluded the Pevolca technical director. However, in and around the area of the eruption, air quality worsens. “For this reason, from day one, an exclusion radius and a safety distance of 2.5 kilometers have been established,” Morcuende added. On the streets of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane, the few neighbors who go out are wearing protective glasses and FFP2 masks.
The number of evacuated people has remained this Friday at 5,700 people, mainly from the neighborhood of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane. 189 are at the Fuencaliente hotel and the rest are at the homes of family and friends.
José Vicente is president of the banana cooperative, and beyond worrying about the crops destroyed by the laundry, he thinks about the fruit that cannot be harvested. “The banana activity is paralyzed. The reality is that there is no economy, because if we do not transport the product to the packaging, we are not going to get anything ”, says the farmer without taking his eyes off the eruption.
The only thing he asks is “to be able to even continue watering the banana trees.” “We are very strong here in the Canary Islands. We are able to rally, share the pain, and prepare for the heavy blow. The pothole who is going to suffer the most is the working class ”, he concludes.