IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES. Volcanic eruption in the Canaries: the powerlessness of the inhabitants in the face of the advancing lava

the essential In total, 6 85 people have been evacuated since the start of the eruption, which has not yet claimed any casualties. Among them are 400 tourists “who have been removed from risk areas” and settled in Tenerife, on another island in the archipelago, the authorities said.

154 hectares of land and 320 buildings were destroyed by lava, including many houses hastily abandoned by residents. For the time being, this is the latest assessment of the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano which began on Sunday on the Island of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary Islands archipelago.

On Wednesday, the lava, which is now moving “at 300 meters per hour, according to a volcanologist, continues to spread.

Faced with this situation, the firefighters engaged in the night of Tuesday to Wednesday a desperate attempt to try to deviate towards a ravine the lava flow threatening homes in Todoque, one of the villages evacuated by the authorities and the last town before the coast, some 2 km away as the crow flies.

L'éruption a provoqué la destruction de nombreux bâtiments.
The eruption caused the destruction of many buildings. AFP – DESIREE MARTIN

“It costs nothing to try,” said the firefighters on Twitter, posting images of construction machinery activating at night in front of rubble, a few hundred meters from a glowing lava flow.

The damage caused by the eruption – the first since 614 on this island populated by nearly 100 000 inhabitants – would exceed 400 million euros, according to the president of the Canary Islands region, Angel Victor Torres.

L'éruption est toujours en cours ce mercredi.
The eruption is still in progress this Wednesday. AFP – DESIREE MARTIN

Toxic gases

The arrival of the lava in the ocean, feared by the authorities because of the fumes of toxic gases and the projections it could cause, was initially scheduled for Monday evening, but was delayed due to the slowing of the flow.

According to Involcan, which reported on Tuesday evening an increase in seismic activity of the volcano, the eruption of Cumbre Vieja could last “between 11 and 84 days “, resulting in significant gas and smoke emissions.

Une colonne de fumée, cendres et lave se dégage du sol.
A column of smoke, ash and lava emerges from the ground. AFP – DESIREE MARTIN

According to the institute, between 6 and 11 500 tons of sulfur dioxide are spat out daily into the atmosphere

The cloud, which has already reached the Moroccan coasts, was to extend to the Iberian Peninsula on Wednesday afternoon, before rising towards the Balearic Islands and the south of France, according to the projections of the Copernicus program.

According to the same source, this cloud of sulfur dioxide should cover the entire western Mediterranean and much of the Maghreb on Friday.

“A battle of titans”

You have to be “very careful with the vapors and gases that can be emitted at the time of the entry” of the lava into the sea, insists David Calvo, for whom the junction between water and lava will be similar to “a battle of titans”.

D'importantes fumées se dégagent de la lave qui a envahi le sol. D'importantes fumées se dégagent de la lave qui a envahi le sol.
Substantial fumes are released from the lava which has invaded the ground. AFP – JOSE MARIA MONTESDEOCA

“We have experience (of the volcano) Kilauea three years ago in Hawaii, where 11 people were injured by one of these projections “, recalled this volcanologist, for whom” the rate and the force of the eruption will not decrease “in the next few days.

Back to top button