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La Palma eruption: More than a thousand buildings destroyed by magma and ash

La Palma eruption: More than a thousand buildings destroyed by magma and ash

The volcanic eruption in Cumbre Vieja has now affected 434 hectares of land (just over a thousand acres), and the magma flow has exceeded 1.2 kilometres at its widest point. At a press conference last night, the technical director of PEVOLCA, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, explained that the collapse of the volcanic cone, which occurred late on Sunday afternoon has produced a huge amount of very fluid lava and an increase in explosiveness. Behaviour still within parameters of a Strombolian eruption. Volcanic tubes near the coast have been verified as helping to evacuate lava into the sea.

The PEVOLCA Steering Committee agreed to reinforce monitoring and surveillance work following the appearance of more fluid lava flows, which may well lead to changes in their direction of travel, forcing new civil protection measures to be taken.

PEVOLCA wanted to send a message of calm in the face of increased seismic activity, been registered since Sunday night because, in principle, no more eruptive mouths have yet appeared as a consequence of this seismicity.

The maximum width of the main wash of lava is now 1,250 meters, 300 meters wider than on Sunday, while the main fajana (volcanic platform of cooling lava and landslides) covers 32.7 hectares and is being monitored by scientists aboard boats to measure the levels of CO2 and hydrochloric acid in the area. .

The latest data collected by the Copernicus monitoring system brings the current total number of buildings destroyed by magmatic runoff to 1,046, and another 108 partially damaged infrastructures should also be added.  37 kilometres of roads are damaged (four kilometres were added in just four hours in the early hours of Monday) due to runoff and up to 4,819 hectares have been affected by falling ash.

Canary Islands Regional President, Ángel Víctor Torres, admitted yesterday that there seems to be “no” signs that the La Palma volcano eruption is anywhere near finished.

Air quality

The National Air Quality Index (ICA) from Spain’s Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge indicated this Monday real time air quality monitoring on La Palma includes data from the measurement stations of the national surveillance network, as well as mobile units that the Government of the Canary Islands has installed near the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

The main impacts of volcanic emissions on air quality are the levels of suspended particles and sulphur dioxide. The arrival of the lava to the sea also caused a column of toxic steam containing hydrochloric acid and small particles of volcanic crystals.

Ash

The latest update from the Department of National Security pointed out that the ash mainly affects southern slopes on La Palma though finer ash particles could reach the island of El Hierro, to the south.

Given the decline in air quality in some areas close to the lava, it was decided this Sunday to evacuate scientific and emergency personnel, as well as the residents who went to collect belongings from their homes.

However, air quality in non-evacuated areas close to the volcano’s eruptive mouth are still within normal levels .

Electricity and telecommunications supply are operating normally although the supply of drinkable and agricultural water has been affected in some towns around El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.

In order to guarantee irrigation waters for the affected plantations, two portable desalination plants will be installed in the area of Puerto Naos, which will come into operation in the coming days and weeks.

Water tankers with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters have been sent from the Peninsula, to assist in increasing the flow of water for irrigation.

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