Disasters & Accidents

Alert in La Palma over possible runoffs caused by rain showers

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Oct 22 (EFE).- Residents of the Spanish island of La Palma, where a volcano has been erupting for over a month, were warned that showers forecast over the weekend could cause runoffs where hardened lava flows obstruct water absorption, Spain’s Department of Homeland Security (DSN) said Friday.

The rain is expected to affect the northern side of the island, around the municipality of Tazacorte, which has been the most heavily affected by the eruption.

Experts from a national emergency committee (Pevolca) told residents to clear the roofs of buildings before the rain starts to avoid “a sudden rise in the weight of ash” over them.

The forecast is for showers but if the rain were to intensify there would be a risk of runoffs because the areas of Malpais (which translates as badlands) consist of uneroded lava fields that are “quite waterproof,” Pevolca technical director Miguel Ángel Morcuende said.

Experts have been monitoring three lava streams, two in the northeast that have merged and could force further evacuations, and another river of magma flowing further south which is just 100 meters from the ocean, the DSN reported.

So far 6,600 people have been forced to leave their homes since the Cumbre Vieja started its eruption on 19 September.

Lava flowing from the volcano has flowed across an expanse of approximately 825 hectares, the equivalent of 1,555 soccer fields.

The DSN said air quality was “reasonably good.”

Earthquakes have continued to shake the municipalities of Fuencaliente and Villa de Mazo and Pevolca’s scientific spokesperson María José Blanco said on Thursday there was a risk of further earthquakes which could reach a magnitude of up to VI, considered “slightly damaging” since they can cause displacements and small objects to collapse. EFE


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