Thursday, December 2, 2021

Hundreds of homes buried in toxic black ash as volcano erupts on Spanish island

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Locals trying to dig out their houses from volcanic ash on La Palma
More than 1,500 buildings have been destroyed on La Palma and vast swathes of the island are covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash (Picture: AP)

Hundreds of homes have been covered in a blanket of toxic ash following volcanic eruptions on the Spanish island of La Palma.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on September 19 and has not stopped since.

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Families have been evacuated from their homes in the area, which is one of the Canary Islands.

More than 1,500 buildings have been destroyed, while hard, black lava now covers 1,580 acres on the western side of the island.

Blocks of red lava, some as big as three storey tall buildings, rolled down the hillside as La Palma collapsed in on itself at the weekend.

The airport has been closed and large areas of the island have also been covered in volcanic ash.

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The ash is toxic and has jagged edges that can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

People clean up the ash off a house from the volcano in Las Manchas on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain on Thursday Oct. 14, 2021. Hundreds of people in Spain's Canary Islands are fearing for their homes and property after a new lava stream from an erupting volcano threatened to engulf another neighborhood on the island of La Palma. (AP Photo/Saul Santos)
People remove volcanic ash from a house in Las Manchas on the Canary island of La Palma (Picture: AP)

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On Thursday, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake shook La Palma in what was the strongest recorded tremor since volcanic eruptions began.

The quake was one of around 60 recorded overnight, according to Spain’s National Geographic Institute.

Despite the risks, volunteers have been working tirelessly to clear roads and uncover buildings. The Spanish Navy has been brought in to help.

Video footage taken by JuanMa Hernandez, who lives on La Palma, shows workers wearing face masks to protect themselves as they desperately dig out homes.

JuanMa said: ‘If anyone wants to know how much ash has been left near the La Palma Volcano, watch this video. It’s brutal.’

epa09524198 A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies shows an infrared color picture of lava produced by Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma island, Canary Islands, Spain, 14 October 2021. Canarias regional Volcano Emergency Plan has evacuated 300 new neighbors due to their predictions of the path the lava will take. EPA/MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES HANDOUT -- MANDATORY CREDIT: SATELLITE IMAGE 2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES -- the watermark may not be removed/cropped -- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma island started erupting on September 19 and has not stopped since (Picture: EPA)

Clearing the roads is an important task as the ash is preventing vehicles from moving around the island.

One viewer Dave said: ‘Oh my Lord, that’s infinit work, snow melts but this…’

Another one said: ‘I had not seen such a catastrophe in at least a decade since the 2011 tsunami in Japan, I hope the island can recover from this.’

A third simply said: ‘Oh Lord!’

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