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The lava of La Palma flows towards the sea, as 5,500 evacuated from 2km exclusion zone

The lava of La Palma flows towards the sea, as 5,500 evacuated from 2km exclusion zone

The Special Emergency Plan for Volcanic Risk of the Canary Islands (PEVOLCA) committee have increased deployments this evening ahead lava emanating from the new La Palma volcano reaching the sea this evening, due to the possibility of explosions and emissions of harmful gases.

The Maritime Captaincy have established a perimeter of exclusion, along the stretch of shore from the south, by Punta del Pozo (Puerto Naos), to the north, by Las Viñas beach (Tazacorte), and for half a nautical mile parallel to the coastline, while, by land, security forces are preventing access.  There is a 2km exclusion zone from the eruption also in effect.

The PEVOLCA steering committee reports that forty homes in the area of Tazacorte have been evacuated this Monday, as the lava flows enter the municipality on their way to the sea, raising the current number of evacuees to around 5,500 people.

An alert for forest fires remains active, both firefighters and forest brigades from various administrations, as well as the Military Emergency Unit (UME), have been mobilised, accompanying the lava flows and controlling the safety perimeters. As it has advanced, the lava from La Palma’s erupting volcano has destroyed a hundred homes in the area of El Paso. For this reason, the Government of the Canary Islands is already preparing an urgent decree law to authorise funds for rebuilding the houses affected by the eruption of the volcano in the Cumbre Vieja area.

The PEVOLCA scientific committee has continued to recommend an exclusion radius of two kilometres around emission centres, to minimise the risk from pyroclasts and exposure to toxic gases.

They also remind citizens that they should not approach the lava flows due to the risk of being exposed to the gases emitted, possible landslides and high temperatures.

The areas most vulnerable, so far, due to the advance of the lava have been El Paraíso and Todoque (Los Llanos de Aridane), although the lava flows have entered Tazacorte, they are expected to reach the coast in a few hours.

The experts who form the Pevolca steering committee were joined by the President of the Government, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, reporting that the eruption has continued to present the same fissural eruptive style: consisting of two fissures aligned north to south and about 200 meters apart, with several emission points.

The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, estimated that around 8:00 p.m. this afternoon they would already reach the coastal areas, at which time they will appear before the media to give any new information.

The surface temperature of the emitted lava has been recorded at 1,113º Celsius, and for now the formation of a primary cone has been confirmed.

It is estimated that the volcanic gases emitted could reach 3,000 meters in altitude.

The first estimates of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission into the atmosphere by the eruptive process have been made, and were announced this morning, reaching emission rates of between 6,000 and 9,000 tons per day.

Since the beginning of the eruption on Sunday afternoon, a volcanic tremor signal of great amplitude has been maintained, and has been registered at all seismic stations.

Since the eruption started, a decrease in seismicity has been observed , although some movements continue to be recorded, with an ongoing potential for earthquakes to be noticeable to the population.

Likewise, the surface deformations continue to be registered, mainly in the area closest to the eruption, having reached a maximum accumulated deformation of 20 centimetres.

The surface wind is expected to continue from the northeast with an intensity between 15 and 30 kilometres per hour.

At higher altitudes (between 1,000 and 3,000 meters), the northwest wind is forecast at between 20 and 25 kilometres per hour.

Pevolca reports that their work continues on numerically modelling the extents of the lava flows and monitoring the rates of advance.

Daily monitoring of the sulphur dioxide emissions from the eruptive sources continues with remote optical sensors mounted on helicopters and chemical composition of the smoke plume is being recorded using multi-gas sensors.

The scientific committee is coordinated by the General Directorate of Security and Emergencies of the Government of the Canary Islands and is made up of representatives of Spain’s National Geographic Institute (IGN), The Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME), The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), The Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), The University of La Laguna and University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Continuous monitoring of the event has been reinforced and any significant changes observed will be communicated.

Pevolca reminded the population that they must be attentive to the communications from the competent authorities in Civil Protection, through official channels and the media, as well as following any instructions and collaborating during evacuations, remain calm and do not spread unfounded rumours.

Spanish air traffic control management have stated that “Volcanic activity so far has not affected air traffic in #Canarias. All flights are operating normally, there are no restricted areas and the airports are operational.”

 

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