La Palma: on the eighth day, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted

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After more than 25,000 small earthquakes that have not stopped shaking The Palm For eight days and they had raised the island 15 centimeters, the magma that was pushing under the ground made its way: From 3:10 p.m. La Palma lives its eighth volcano in historical times, again in the Cumbre Vieja.

The eruption has exploded in the municipality of El Paso, one of the four that were on alert for volcanic risk since last Monday, in a rugged area of ​​pine forests known as Cabeza de Vaca, no homes in its closest circle, so it has not caused victims. But there are clusters of houses down the hillside, which have already been evacuated because they are exposed to lava flows, and there are some houses affected.

The volcano began to roar in the form of a jolt and a loud bang which generated a column of ash, which was soon followed by gusts of lava rising many meters above the ground from several eruptive mouths. Up to seven have counted the experts of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcán).

For days now, Involcán and the National Geographic Institute (IGN), the two scientific organizations that had monitored the island, they came warning that the seismic process was accelerating, that the earthquakes had increasingly shallow foci (20 kilometers, 10, 8, 5, up to only 100 meters in the last), so they did not rule out that it could end in an eruption.

But its different spokespersons insisted that it could not be predicted where or when the volcano was going to erupt … Not even if it was going to do it, because reactivations like the one that had suffered the Cumbre Vieja can also be stopped suddenly. It has happened before.

Involcán calculated that a magma reservoir of 11 million cubic meters had accumulated under the ground that was pressing to leave, a quarter of the volume of volcanic materials that Teneguía (1971) emitted in its 24 days of fire, the last volcano that La Palma had lived to date (43 million m3).

When the volcano erupted the evacuations had already started: In El Paso, Mazo, Los Llanos de Aridane and Fuencaliente, the authorities were removing residents with mobility problems from their homes. And the rest of the inhabitants of the area had received talks all these days about how to prepare to leave their home.

“It hallucinates me and at the same time gives me a lot of fear,” said María del Pino Hernández, one of the neighbors evacuated in Los Llanos de Aridane, aware that she is witnessing “an incredible spectacle, which gives panic.”

Some images taken from the air provided by its author show that several houses have been overwhelmed by the first lava flows down the slope of the place where the volcano erupted.

La Palma had suffered seven eruptions to date since there are historical records, since the Conquest of the Canary Islands in the 15th century, all in the vicinity of the Cumbre Vieja. The last were in the 20th century: the San Juan volcano (1949), where it lasted 47 days, and the Teneguía volcano (1971), where it lasted 24 days.

The evacuation operation intends to evacuate more than 5,000 people: those who live in the closest areas and, above all, those who have a house in the corridor where the lava is expected to descend. At the moment, it has been seen that the washes progress slowly, they are not very fluid, which facilitates evacuations.

Its appearance is that of the classic “malpaís”, as it is called in Canary Islands to the old lava flows that thousands of tourists can see every day in the Teide and Timanfaya National Parks, in Tenerife and Lanzarote.

One of the leading experts in volcanism in the country, Joan Marti, of Geosciences Barcelona (CSIC), believes that it is a “classic” eruption of the kind that have been experienced in the Canary Islands, with a type of slow-moving streams that pose little danger to the population. Yes, they could cause problems in the nearest area, he added, gases, sulfur and carbon dioxide emissions.

From what you are seeing, this is a rash that could last weeks; two months at most, at your discretion.

The volcanic hazard traffic light on the island has already gone from yellow (level 2 of 4) to red (3) and citizens who have not been evacuated have been asked to protect themselves from the ashes and stay at home. The scientific committee of the Protection Plan against Volcanic Risk of the Canary Islands (Pevolca) is meeting and tonight is expected to offer new indications.

As a precaution, tomorrow there will be no classes in any educational center in El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte.

The Military Emergency Unit, the Red Cross and several councils have sent reinforcement personnel to La Palma to help the deployment of civil protection and the inhabitants of the island are receiving the solidarity of numerous political representatives.

From the king to the spokesmen of the main parties have contacted the president of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, to express your solidarity. And the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that he is suspending his trip to New York to move to the Canary Islands.

This new volcano has arisen when the submarine eruption of El Hierro was about to be completed ten years ago, which formed the Tagoro volcano under the Mar de Las Calmas.

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