Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Nov 19 (EFE).- The eruption of the La Palma volcano hit the two-month mark on Friday, during which time flows of lava have covered an area equivalent to 1,400 soccer fields, engulfing everything in their path from houses to banana plantations, a staple of the Canary Island’s economy.
Around 7,000 islanders remain in temporary accommodation as the volcano shows no sign of abating. The rivers of lava pouring down from the Cumbre Vieja ridge have destroyed 1,467 buildings, including nearly 1,200 homes, according to Catastro, a state property register.
Ángel Víctor Torres, the regional president of the Canary Islands, on Thursday said the cost of damages on the island could run between 550 million to 770 million euros ($621M – $870M).
At least three lava flows have hit the island’s Atlantic coast, where they form vast deltas of volcanic rock and release potentially toxic gases upon contact with the water.
The volcanic eruption began on September 19 in a remote wooded area on the Cumbre Vieja ridge just after 3pm local time. Scientists had warned of an imminent volcanic eruption due to a swarm of seismic activity in the days prior.
Experts are unwilling to put an end date on the eruption, which so far shows no sign of abating.
“We have waited for two months, and it doesn’t matter if we have to wait a little longer,” Stavros Meletlidis, a volcanologist from Spain’s National Geographic Institute (IGN), told Efe.
“We have to understand that this is a geological process, it’s not a storm or a fire.”
In the last two months, the volcano has spewed at least 100 million cubic meters of material, according to the latest estimations.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to visit the island Saturday.