After the volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands was officially declared over on Saturday 25 December, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called its end ‘the best Christmas present’ and vowed to ‘continue working together, all institutions, to relaunch the marvellous island of La Palma and repair the damage’.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano first erupted on 19 September and then on the eve of 14 December, it finally fell silent after spewing lava for 85 days and 8 hours, making it La Palma’s longest eruption on record.
Volcanologists said they needed to certify that three key variables – gas, lava and tremors – had subsided in the Cumbre Vieja ridge for 10 days before declaring the volcano’s apparent exhaustion, and which they did on Christmas Day. Previous periods of reduced activity had been followed by new eruptions.
The emergency in La Palma is not yet over, however, due to the widespread damage that the eruption has caused, Julio Pérez, the director of the Canaries’ volcanic emergency committee, PEVOLCA, said when announcing the much-anticipated milestone.
Pérez also said there was still a danger from ‘ash, heat and gases’, which still posed a risk. He stated that this would remain the case during January, although it might be possible to begin returning people to their homes and re-establishing basic services such as power and water by the 15 January.
Molten rock flowing down towards the sea destroyed around 3,000 buildings, entombed banana plantations and vineyards, ruined irrigation systems and cut off roads since mid-September – although no injuries or deaths were directly linked to the eruption. Farming and tourism are the main industries on the Canary Islands, a popular destination for many European holidaymakers due to the good climate.
Visiting La Palma on Monday, Pedro Sánchez also said that ‘the emergency continues’ and reiterated his government’s commitment ‘to continue working on rebuilding the island’. He added: ‘Aid for an amount exceeding 138 million euros has already been mobilised.’
Estamos ante el fin de la erupción del volcán de La Palma, pero la emergencia continúa. Debemos seguir trabajando en la reconstrucción de la isla. Se han movilizado ya ayudas por importe superior a 138 millones de euros. No vamos a olvidarnos de la realidad de los palmeros/as. pic.twitter.com/FWxWX1uCB0— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) December 27, 2021
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