Disasters & Accidents

It’s torture, I wish the lava would just take my home: La Palma resident

By José María Rodríguez

Tajuya, La Palma, Spain, Oct 26 (EFE).- The Santaella brothers check in on their family home on the Spanish island of La Palma daily and despite the house being engulfed by slow-moving lava, it continues to defy the explosive volcanic eruption that has been underway for over six weeks.

The large villa set in a vast garden with fruit trees was built by their parents 40 years ago, as is common amongst families on the island.

Francisco Santella calls his eighty-year-old parents after visiting the family home: “The champion continues to resist, mama!”

Despite three of the building’s walls being engulfed by lava, the house continues to stand. However, cracks are beginning to prise the walls apart and the pressure of tonnes of basalt will inevitably force the eastern wall down.

“This is torture. Some mornings I think ‘just take her away already’,” Santaella tells Efe.

“It has been many days checking in on her,” he adds.

It all started on September 19, at 3.14 PM, when the volcano erupted a few kilometers up the slope, in the area of ??Cabeza de Vaca, in Cumbre Vieja.

Santaella remembers speaking to his brothers over the phone and talking of the tremendous force of nature, but, like many other residents of Los Llanos de Aridane, he did not think it would affect them.

Locals thought that if there were rivers of lava they would flow swiftly into the sea.

But following the eruption, the streams of molten rock did not travel down a steep ravine as expected but overflowed across a plain, fanning out instead of moving forward.

The Santaella family home now sits on the edge of three-kilometer-wide volcanic badlands, lava fields that continue to grow, fuelled relentlessly by rivers of red-hot lava gushing from the volcano’s cone.

Dozens of families lost their homes in the El Paraíso neighborhood in the hours immediately after the eruption.

Other homes in the vicinity were buried in a matter of two days.

The lava streams swallowed the entire town of Todoque in just a week. Today, nothing has been left behind.

Hundreds of anxious residents of the Aridane Valley have been forced to flee and witness a form of slow-motion torture from afar knowing their homes too will soon succumb to the volcano’s fiery grip.

“We never imagined we would be in this situation,” Santaella laments.

Santaella gets up early every day to see the house from the LP-2 highway.

It’s easy to spot the residents observing their homes from the banks of the road. They don’t smile or take pictures, let alone a selfie.

Every time he leaves, Santaella thinks “tomorrow it will be gone” and he feels “relief.”

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