Outbreak in the Canaries | Lava descends into the sea, terrible poisonous gases

(Los Llanos de Aridane) Lava flows from Cumbre Vieja volcano continued to carry everything in their path Tuesday as they descended toward the coast of the Spanish island of La Palma, where they are feared to arrive due to a possible release of toxic gases.

Alberto Garcia
France media agency

The explosion, which began on Sunday on this island in the Canary archipelago, displaced 6,000 people after an additional 500 people were evacuated overnight.

The lava’ descends relentlessly towards the sea and nothing can be done about it. That is all helplessness in the face of this flow […] who takes everything in his way […] The president of the Canary Islands region, Angel Victor Torres, warned of other homes.

If this eruption, the first since 1971 on this island of nearly 85,000 inhabitants, did not result in casualties, the damages would be enormous, exceeding 400 million euros, according to Mr. Torres, who stressed that the Canary Islands could benefit from European funds to rebuild. .

Images published by the media, authorities and residents show black and orange flows several meters high, slowly descending the sides of the volcano, swallowing trees, roads and houses.

The lava has so far destroyed 166 structures and covers 103 hectares, according to the European Copernican system of geospatial measurements.

acid clouds

The arrival of the flows into the sea, initially scheduled for Monday evening, is feared but has been delayed by a slowing of the flow, because it could lead to erupting pieces of lava, waves of boiling water or emitting toxic gases, according to the American Institute of Geological Studies.

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“Clouds from the interaction of seawater and lava are acidic” and “can be dangerous if you get too close,” explains Patrick Allard, director of CNRS research at the Institut Géophysique du Globe de Paris.

The lava is located about two kilometers from the sea, and is currently advancing at a speed of 200 meters per hour. However, the authorities are unable to say precisely when it could reach the ocean.

The regional government of the Canary Islands, which has advised residents to cover their noses and mouths when they go outside, has issued a ruling with a “2 nautical mile exclusion radius” about where the lava flows are expected to reach. She asked the curious not to go there.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is still in La Palma, where he arrived on Sunday evening, called for caution. He insisted “avoid getting close to the magma or volcano and leave the roads as clear as possible” so as not to impede potential new evacuations.

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

“All your life is in the air”

Overnight, the appearance of a new volcanic mouth, the ninth, in the town of El Paso, prompted the evacuation of an additional 500 people, bringing the total displaced to about 6,000 since Sunday.

The opening of this new mouth came after a new 4.1-magnitude earthquake, which was recorded Monday at 9:32 pm (8:32 pm GMT), according to the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute (Involcan).

Israel Castro Hernandez, whose house was destroyed, is one of those displaced. “It’s practically your whole life that disappears like this…the volcano wakes up, says ‘I’m going out of this way’ and almost puts your whole life up in the air,” he said wistfully.

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Besides him, his wife Yurina Torres Abreu still does not realize this. “We can’t believe it. We tell ourselves that our house is now under this volcano. There is nothing that can be done, it is nature,” she exclaimed disappointedly.

Comber Vega spews plumes of smoke several hundred meters high and between 8,000 and 10,500 tons of sulfur dioxide per day, according to Involcan, which estimates the eruption could last “several weeks or even months.”

But the airspace was not closed.

“We know when it started, but we don’t know how long it will last,” says Juan Aragon Cruz, who also had to leave his home.

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