Disasters & Accidents

La Palma volcano stabilizes after week of eruption

Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain, Sep 26 (EFE).- The Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands, stabilized on Sunday after a week of activity and authorities say that everyone who was forced to evacuate during the eruption may now return to their homes.

The administrative committee of the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Attention to Emergencies from Volcanic Risk (Pevolca, after verifying that all indicators – which on Friday had pointed to a dangerous “scenario” for three population centers near the volcano with about 160 residents – were now showing that the volcano has stabilized.

Those indicators include seismic tremos, seismic signals and deformations of the earth on and near the volcano, the head of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canaries, Maria Jose Blanco, said Sunday.

The volcano began erupting last Sunday, expelling lava and a huge column of smoke and ash in the nature park where it is located on La Palma, and residents of the island witnessed a rain of ash and tremendous explosions on the sides and summit of the mountain.

Since then, up to four fissures have opened from which two big flows of lava have emerged, the bigger one moving down the side of the volcano toward the south, although it still has not reached the ocean.

A total of almost 6,000 people had to be evacuated from the path of the lava and the vicinity in general, and some 500 buildings were affected by the lava flow, with 450 of them being completely destroyed, along with numerous roadways cut or damaged by the volcanic activity.

The lava has covered some 210 hectares (about 500 acres) but the area covered with ash belched from the fire mountain covers 1,314 hectares (some 3,300 acres), according to the latest measurements by the Copernicus satellite, which monitors the territory of Europe.

Although it appears to have stabilized, the La Palma volcano continues to produce explosions.

Therefore, authorities on Sunday warned people living within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of the volcano to stay away from windows, the glass in which could shatter due to the explosions, and the Canary Islands government’s Education Council is scheduled to keep all schools in the municipalities closes to the volcano closed on Monday.

In recent hours there was another large amount of ash spewed from the volcano that fell on towns relatively far away, blown there by the winds coming from the southwest at altitudes above 1,400 meters (4,600 feet), although the column of gases and smoke from the volcano is rising up to 4,000 meters (2.5 miles).

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