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Eruption in the Canaries: lava slowly descends towards the sea, feared toxic gases

2021-09-22T05:34:56.758Z

IN PICTURES - More than 6,100 people have been displaced in these eruptions which have already caused enormous damage, estimated at 400 million euros.



The lava flows from the Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to carry everything in their path on Tuesday, descending towards the coast of the Spanish island of La Palma, where their arrival is feared due to the possible emission of toxic gases.

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This eruption, which began on Sunday on this island in the Canary archipelago, has already caused the displacement of 6,100 people, including 400 tourists "

who have been removed from risk areas

" and settled in Tenerife, according to a statement from the regional government of the Canary Islands on Tuesday evening.

Lava flows near residences in La Palma on September 21.

JOSE MARIA MONTESDEOCA / AFP

The lava “

descends inexorably towards the sea and nothing can be done about it.

This is all the powerlessness in the face of this flow (...) which sweeps away everything in its path (...) and will take away other houses,

”warned the president of the Canary Islands region, Angel Victor Torres.

Black and orange flows

If this eruption, the first since 1971 on this island populated by nearly 85,000 inhabitants, did not cause any death or injury, the damage is enormous, well exceeding 400 million euros, noted Yurena Torres, who stressed that the Canaries could benefit from European funds to rebuild.

The images disseminated by the media, the authorities and residents show black and orange flows several meters high slowly descending the sides of the volcano and engulfing trees, roads and houses.

Residents evacuated the area on September 21.

BORJA SUAREZ / REUTERS

The lava has destroyed 185 buildings so far, 63 of which are said to be homes, the regional government said.

It covers 103 hectares, according to the European system of geospatial measurements Copernicus.

“The clouds generated by the interaction of seawater and lava are acidic and can be dangerous if you get too close.

"

Patrick Allard, from the Institut de Géophysique du Globe de Paris

The arrival of the flows in the sea, initially scheduled for Monday evening, but delayed due to the slowing of the flow, is feared because it can give rise to explosions of pieces of lava, waves of boiling water or the emanation. toxic gases, according to the United States Institute of Geological Studies (USGS).

"

The clouds generated by the interaction of sea water and lava are acidic

" and "

can be dangerous if you are too close

", explained to AFP Patrick Allard, of the Institute of Geophysics of the Globe of Paris.

Located about 2 km from the sea, the lava is currently advancing at 200 meters per hour.

The authorities are not, however, able to say precisely when it could reach the ocean.

The government of the Canaries, which has advised locals to cover their noses and mouths when going out, has decreed a “

two nautical mile exclusion radius

” around the expected arrival point. flows and asked the curious not to go there.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano projects columns of gas and ash throughout the region.

DESIREE MARTIN / AFP

Still in La Palma, where he has been since Sunday evening, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for caution.

"

Avoid getting close to the magma or the volcano and leave the roads as free as possible

" so as not to hinder possible new evacuations, he insisted.

On Thursday, King Felipe VI will also travel to La Palma.

On the night of Monday to Tuesday, the appearance of a new eruptive mouth, the ninth, in the town of El Paso, led to the evacuation of 500 additional people.

The opening of this mouth came after a new earthquake with a magnitude of 4.1, recorded Monday at 9:32 p.m. (8:32 p.m. GMT), said the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (Involcan).

Israel Castro Hernandez, whose home was destroyed, is one of those displaced.

"

It's practically your whole life that goes away like that ... The volcano wakes up, it says + I'm going out this way + and it almost puts your whole life in the air

", he laments.

At his side, his wife Yurena Torres Abreu still does not realize.

We can't believe it.

We tell ourselves that our house is now under this volcano.

There is nothing to do, it's nature,

”she blurted out, disillusioned.

View taken from Tazacorte in La Palma on September 20.


BORJA SUAREZ / REUTERS

Cumbre Vieja spits columns of smoke reaching several hundred meters high and between 8,000 and 10,500 tonnes of sulfur dioxide per day, according to Involcan, which estimates that the eruption could last, "

several weeks or even months

".

The airspace, however, was not closed.

We know when it started, but we don't know how long it will last,

” says Juan Aragón Cruz, who also had to leave his home.

Source: lefigaro

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