La Palma: Volcano roars back to life and begins ejecting lava again as hundreds confined to homes

Witnesses report spurts of lava emerging after period of several hours without explosions

Conrad Duncan
Tuesday 28 September 2021 02:02
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Related video: Aerial footage shows charred land surrounding La Palma volcano

A volcano on La Palma island has begun ejecting lava again after a lull following an eruption earlier this month that brought days of lava pouring from the mountain range.

Witnesses told Reuters on Monday that spurts of lava emerged from the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the early evening and snaked down the dark mountainside after a period of several hours without explosions.

Hundreds of people in coastal villages on the Spanish island, which neighbours Tenerife, are already hunkered down in anticipation of lava which was emitted in previous days reaching the sea and releasing toxic gas.

“Activating and deactivating is logical, natural in the evolution of Strombolian volcanoes,” Miguel Angel Morcuende, director of the Pevolca response committee, said on Monday, referring to the type of violent eruption that emits incandescent dust.

His colleague, Maria Jose Blanco, added that lower levels of gas and a reduced supply of material within the crater could have caused the drop in activity.

Black lava has been slowly flowing down the volcano's western flank toward the sea since 19 September, destroying more than 500 houses as well as churches and banana plantations in the process, according to the EU’s Copernicus disaster monitoring programme.

On Monday, the Spanish property portal Idealista estimated that the damage was around 178 million euros (£152m).

Authorities are not sure yet when the lava may reach the sea around the island and about 300 local residents in the coastal areas of San Borondon, Marina Alta and Baja and La Condesa have been confined to their homes in anticipation.

The moment of contact between the lava and the sea is likely to trigger explosions and emit clouds of chlorine gas.

Although no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported yet from the eruption, about 15 per cent of the island's banana crop could be at risk, potentially jeopardising thousands of jobs.

On a visit to La Palma last week, Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced a package of measures to help support the island following the eruption, with aid for rebuilding homes and public infrastructure.

Mr Sanchez did not say at the time how much money would be made available for the efforts, but said that a cabinet meeting would provide more details this week.

Additional reporting by agencies

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