Outbreak in the Canaries | The volcano’s lava has reached the ocean, a “minor” threat to the population

Lava from the volcano, which erupted ten days ago on the island of La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands, finally reached the sea from Tuesday to Wednesday overnight and caused the emission of potentially dangerous gases with a risk currently classified as “very low” for them Population, according to one expert.

Posted on Sep 28, 2021 at 7:41 pm Updated Sep 29, 2021 at 6:24 am

The event was announced shortly after 11 p.m. local time (Tuesday 6 p.m. EDT) by the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan). “The lava flow reached the sea at Playa Nueva,” said Involcan on his Twitter account. On September 19, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted.

Images broadcast by regional television from the Canaries, a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, showed glowing lava entering the water amid a large amount of smoke.

On Wednesday morning, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography said in a tweet with images to back it up that the accumulation of lava was beginning to form an advance that was gaining ground on the ocean.

“The risk is very low”

“Right now we have a strong wind over the area which is diverting this gas cloud further towards the sea, so the risk is very low,” said Rubén Fernández, one of the radio station’s officials, the public broadcaster. Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca).

The meeting of lava, a rock melted at over 1000 degrees Celsius, and seawater with a temperature of around 20-25 degrees Celsius was particularly feared because it could lead to toxic gases and harmful particles.

“Inhaling or coming into contact with acidic gases and liquids can irritate the skin, eyes and airways and cause breathing difficulties,” warned Involcan.

For this reason, the regional government of the archipelago had ordered a safety perimeter with a radius of 3.5 km on land and two nautical miles at sea around the location where the lava was expected.

On Monday, residents of several neighborhoods in Tazacorte, a village near the coast, were asked to restrict themselves to protect themselves from possible toxic gas vapors from the arrival of lava in the sea.

“At the moment we have no evidence that this is dangerous for the people locked up or for the rescue teams, who also respect the security borders,” continued Mr Fernández, who holds the title of Security Director for the Canary Islands.

PHOTO BORJA SUAREZ, REUTERS

State of natural disaster

The penetration of the lava debris into the sea came a few hours after the government released 10.5 million euros on Tuesday as direct aid to victims of the outbreak, particularly to buy apartments for people whose homes were engulfed by lava.

On this island with 85,000 inhabitants, a state of natural disaster was declared, on which lava flows destroyed a total of 656 buildings – not all residential houses – and covered 268 hectares of land, according to the European system of measures Copernicus Geospatial.

The lava also destroyed many roads. The President of the Canary Islands Region, Angel Victor Torres, estimated the damage last week at over € 400 million and said he was counting on European funds for reconstruction.

The outbreak did not leave any deaths or injuries, but resulted in the evacuation of more than 6,000 people who were forced to leave their homes.

Since its eruption, the volcano has been spewing huge columns of smoke several hundred meters high, but also ashes.

The accumulation of these disrupted air traffic, which led to the cancellation of the seven scheduled domestic flights on Friday and then to the closure of the airport the next day. Although it has officially reopened, flights have been suspended for the time being.

Experts estimate that the rash can last for several weeks or even a few months.

The two previous eruptions on La Palma took place in 1949 and 1971. They killed three in all, two of them by gas inhalation.

Like the other islands of the archipelago, La Palma lives mainly from banana cultivation and tourism.

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