A volcano began spewing ash again on Monday after a brief hiatus in the Canary Islands, where coastal residents are confined to their homes for fear of toxic gases when lava hits the sea.
The Cumbre Vieja, which straddles a ridge south of La Palma in the Atlantic archipelago, erupted on September 19, spewing rivers of lava that have slowly crept into the sea.
But on Monday morning, the lava and ash flow stopped, and the roar of the week-long eruption faded to silence, before resuming activity several hours later, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
Smoke had continued to rise from the top during the pause.
“In the last few hours, the volcanic tremor has all but disappeared, as well as the explosive strombolian activity,” tweeted the institute of volcanology Involcan, using the scientific term for a mixture of explosions and lava flow.
“Volcanic activity on La Palma has been significantly reduced in recent hours,” tweeted the Institute of Geosciences of Madrid.
“We must be very attentive to how it evolves because the scenario can change quickly.”
Several hours later, the volcano began spewing ash again.
Fit and start
Speaking to AFP after the resumption, Involcan spokesman David Calvo said it was “just ash, at the moment.” The Cumbre Vieja had been alternating between “explosive episodes and moments of calm for quite some time,” he added.
Overnight, 300 residents living in coastal areas were ordered to stay at home to avoid damage from the release of toxic gases when the lava finally reaches the sea, the regional government said.
“The population must follow the instructions of the authorities and remain at home, with doors and windows closed,” he said.
The lava, which is moving very slowly, is currently between 800 and 1,000 meters (about half a mile) from shore, he said. There is an evacuation order that affects four areas around Tazacorte, where it is expected to enter the sea.
Officials have also established an exclusion zone to scare away curious bystanders.
Experts say that the entry of lava into the seawater will send clouds of toxic gas into the air, causing explosions and fragmentation of the molten rock like gunshots.
“Inhalation or contact with acidic gases and liquids can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory tract, and can cause breathing difficulties, especially in people with pre-existing respiratory diseases,” Involcan warned.
Disrupted air traffic
So far, the molten rock has made its way through more than 235 hectares of land, burning many banana plantations, devouring 513 properties and destroying nearly 20 kilometers of roads, the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program said. .
And so far, the eruption has forced more than 6,000 people from their homes, although 160 were allowed to return home on Sunday.
Authorities also said ash clouds from the volcano had begun to affect areas on the east side of the island.
At La Palma airport, where air traffic was halted for 24 hours on Saturday due to ash, local airline Binter said it had not been able to resume flights.
“We have stopped our La Palma operations again after trying to make a first flight today and finding that conditions were not safe enough,” tweeted the airline, which is based in the Canary Islands, and said it would try again on Tuesday. .