SANTA CRUZ DE LA PALMA – According to scientists, the eruption of the volcano Cumbre Vieja on the Canary Island of La Palma on Thursday became more explosive. In addition, the gas cloud has reached a height of 4.2 kilometres, the front of the lava flow has a width of 500 metres.
This huge wall of lava is 12 metres high and still moves extremely slowly. The ash from the ash cloud has now reached La Palma airport. Here, it has caused delays on Thursday morning for flights between the Canary Islands.
Since Sunday, the lava tongue has destroyed 166 hectares and about 350 homes and other structures, according to the Copernicus Observatory. At the moment, the lava is a mile from the sea, but the speed of the flow has decreased. The delay makes experts doubt whether the lava will reach the sea with all the dangerous consequences that entails. Local banana growers are taking advantage of that delay by going to their land and saving what can be saved.
More than 6,000 people evacuated
The number of evacuated residents has increased in recent hours. According to the municipality, it already exceeds 6,000. The evacuations apply to neighbourhoods devastated by the volcano, as well as built-up areas which could be cut off from the rest of civilization by the lava flow blocking the way.
Visit of the King
This Thursday, President Pedro Sánchez, King Felipe VI, and his wife Queen Letizia visited the island and heard first hand the experiences and losses of 20 selected residents from El Paraíso, the most affected area. “We are stunned by what we have seen, and we will not forget it. It will take a long time to return to normal, but La Palma will recover,” said the King. He and the Spanish Prime Minister were accompanied by the President of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres. And also the Cabildo de La Palma, Mariano Hernández Zapata. They visited the square of the parish of San Isidro Labrador, La Laguna (Municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane).
At around 5.20 pm local time, a series of powerful explosions occurred inside the volcano. This results in more lava flowing downwards on the fifth day of the eruption. In addition, Cabeza de Vaca’s volcanic column expels magma with greater force, scientists confirm in the 20Minutos newspaper.
Geologists at the National Geographic Institute (IGN) explain there are stages of greater emission of pyroclasts and ash, but less lava. Then there are other stages where the amount of pyroclasts and ash is lower and the lava flow increases again. “That is, the amount of magma that comes out is the same, but in different forms.” According to measurements taken at 7.26 pm on Wednesday, the lava covered 14 hectares in 36 hours. This destroyed 30 more buildings than the previous day.
Restricted airspace areas
The ash and gas plume of almost 4.5 kilometres high affects aviation on the island. La Palma airport remains open, but there are companies such as Binter who are postponing their flights and waiting for the ashes to be expelled. In addition, AENA has temporarily restricted airspace areas in the municipalities of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane for overflights below 3,000 feet.