Friday, November 26

La Palma volcano lava reaches the ocean, amid fear of toxic gases

The lava from the La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands has reached the ocean, a situation feared as potentially dangerous due to the toxic gas that is generated.

Ten days after the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the island, the molten rock finally reached the sea on Tuesday night.

This encounter between lava, a rock melted at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius, and seawater that is around 20-25 degrees Celsius, was particularly feared for the production of toxic gases and harmful particles that it could cause, making it potentially very dangerous.

The archipelago’s regional government has ordered a “2 nautical mile exclusion radius” around the area where the lava was expected to arrive.

Images broadcast on regional television in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, showed glowing lava entering the water amid a large amount of smoke.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on 19 September.

On Tuesday afternoon, the lava, whose speed had varied greatly in recent days, even stopping at one point, was still about 800 meters from the sea, so it was impossible to predict when it would reach the ocean.

On Monday, residents of several neighborhoods in Tazacorte, a town near the coast, were asked to stay indoors to protect themselves from potential emissions of toxic gases resulting from the arrival of lava into the ocean.

This decision was made due to “the possibility of a small shock occurring when the magma enters the sea and that this small shock causes vapors that could be toxic,” said the technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca). , Miguel Ángel Morcuende.

No information was immediately available on the amount of toxic gases produced and the danger of the situation.

The lava entered the sea hours after the government released 10.5 million euros in direct aid to those affected by Tuesday’s eruption, including the purchase of homes for those whose homes were engulfed by lava.

The island of 85,000 inhabitants has been declared in a state of natural disaster, where lava flows have destroyed a total of 656 buildings – not all of them homes – and have covered 268 hectares of land, according to the European Copernicus geospatial measurement system.

The lava also destroyed many roads. The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, estimated last week that the damages would exceed 400 million euros and said that he had European funds to rebuild.

No one was killed or injured in the eruption, but more than 6,000 people had to flee their homes.

Since it erupted, the volcano has been spewing huge plumes of smoke up to several hundred meters high, as well as ash.

The accumulation of ash has disrupted air traffic, causing the cancellation of seven domestic flights scheduled on Friday and the closure of the airport the following day. Although it has officially reopened, flights are still suspended for the time being.

Experts believe that the rash could last for several weeks or even months.

The two previous eruptions on La Palma took place in 1949 and 1971. They caused a total of three deaths, two of which were due to gas inhalation.

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