Disasters & Accidents

La Palma on alert as wind change threatens to spread volcanic gas, ash

Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain, Sep 30 (EFE).- Scientists monitoring the volcano on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma warned Thursday that a forecast change of wind direction could blow gases and ash over populated areas, lowering the air quality.

The lava flow from the volcano that erupted on the Cumbre Vieja ridge 11 days ago hit the ocean on Tuesday evening, releasing toxic fumes.

A change in wind direction Friday could push volcanic gas and ash in a north, northeasterly direction and lower the air quality in the island’s more densely populated areas, authorities said.

The municipality of Tazacorte, near where the river of molten rock reaches the ocean from its source on the Cumbre Vieja ridge, has registered higher than normal levels of sulfur dioxide in the air, accompanied by the usual smell of rotten eggs common in volcanic areas.

The change in air quality is expected to extend to the nearby towns of Llanos de Aridane and El Paso.

Although the change in air quality does not currently pose a threat to health, authorities have nonetheless recommended that residents in the affected areas remain indoors and use FFP2-grade face masks.

So far, some 981 buildings on the island have been destroyed or damaged since the eruption, as well as a total surface of 338.3 hectares (835.9 acres), according to the latest calculations from the EU’s Copernicus Earth Monitoring Service. 

The Cumbre Vieja volcano that became active on September 19 for the first time in 50 years has resulted in widespread destruction, including several hundred houses and evacuations.EFE


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