La Palma volcano eruption | news summary for Thursday 23 September
La Palma volcano eruption: live updates
- 400 buildings have been destroyed by the lava flow, which now covers 220 hectares
- Active volcanoes in the Canary Islands: an overview
- When was the last time there was a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands? (Details)
- The question on the mind of many: What will happen when the lave reaches the ocean? (Details)
Live coverage of La Palma volcano eruption
Here you can see live footage of the volcanic eruption. We have our Spanish team monitoring the situation and will be updating regularly here.
The volcano in the Cumbre Vieja mountain range spews gas, ash and lava over the Aridane valley as seen from Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary Island of La Palma, where a vast wall of molten lava has destroyed hundreds of homes and led to mass evacuations . The Cumbre Vieja volcano, which erupted on September 19, 2021, straddles a ridge in the south of La Palma, one of seven islands that make up the Canary Islands, Spain's Atlantic archipelago which lies off the coast of Morocco. (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP)
"Miracle house" spared from lava flow on La Palma
Images of a "miracle house" on La Palma have been doing the social media rounds after the property was inexplicably spared from the advance of the lava flow from Cumbre Vieja.
Has the King of Spain visited those impacted by the volcano eruption in La Palma?
Yes. King Filipe VI and Queen Letizia visited La Palma to speak with those who have lost everything after a massive volcano eruption which began last Sunday
The Canary Islands in Spain were formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by volcanoes, and some are still active as shown this week.
An aerial view of the lava flow on La Palma.
Cabildo de La Palma president thanks king and queen for visit
The president of the Cabildo de La Palma, the island’s local government, has thanked Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia for their visit to the areas affected by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
“I know we’ll be able to count on the support of the king and queen as we rebuild the future of these families,” Mariano Zapata said in a social-media post.
Once the lava reaches the seawater authorities are concerned about the reaction of the two elements when they come into contact. According to the emergency management team there could be explosions from thermal shock as the lava has a temperature of around 1,800 ºF (1,100ºC) and the seawater just 73ºF (23ºC). The mixture of the molten rock and the seawater will also lead to chemical reactions that will present additional dangers.
Lava flow map
The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute has shared this lava flow map, which was created by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of Earth’s Interior.
Aerial images of the La Palma lava flow
A plane belonging to Spain's Ministry for Ecological Transition has sent back these aerial images of the lava flow:
Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia during a visit to La Palma on Thursday, in the wake of the volcanic eruption on the island.
"Powerful explosions" in La Palma volcano
The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) has reported “powerful explosions” taking place in the Cumbre Vieja volcano from 5:20pm local time this evening (12:20pm EDT).
Involcan has tweeted this video of the explosions:
Spanish king tells affected La Palma residents they "won't be lacking in help"
Spain’s King Felipe VI has expressed his “support and sympathy” for the thousands of La Palma residents affected by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, and has promised them that they “won’t be lacking in help” to rebuild their lives.
In remarks made at the end of his visit to the Canary Island alongside Queen Letizia and Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, King Felipe spoke of his belief that “the people of La Palma will get through this”.
“At a stroke, you have been left with almost nothing,” he said, “but you have the help and solidarity of everyone else.”
The king added that it is necessary to “to do everything in our power to get these families through this, ensure their safety, guarantee their futures and rebuild on La Palma everything that nature has taken away.”
(Photo: EFE/Carlos De Saá)
Canaries government buys homes to house displaced La Palma residents
The Canary Islands is to purchase some 280 homes in which to house La Palma residents left homeless by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, the regional government’s minister for public works, transport and housing has said.
“We must work to face the housing emergency,” Sebastián Franquis told reporters. “That’s our chief objective and we’ve been working in that regard for some days to try to look for a solution as quickly as possible.
“With the contact we’re having with the owners of semi-finished or finished houses, we believe we can tackle the most immediate housing emergency that we’re experiencing, although we’ll have to keep on gauging the reality of the situation week by week, which is why we’re continuing to look for homes.
“If the number of people left homeless increases, we’ll turn to other alternatives that we already have lined up.”
TVE has reported that around 6,000 residents of La Palma have been left homeless by the eruption.
Debunking the tsunami scare
Writing in National Geographic, Robin George Andrews explains that the social media scare surrounding a huge tsunami hitting the US is a myth.
"There’s almost no chance that the Cumbre Vieja eruption could create a mega-tsunami that would slam into America’s eastern seaboard," the article states, adding that "under realistic modeling conditions, the most severe collapse could cause no more than a six-foot tsunami along western Atlantic coastlines."
La Palma ash cloud to spread east
Jets of red hot lava shot high into the sky on La Palma on Thursday morning as toxic ash from the Cumbre Vieja volcano coated the surrounding area and authorities sought shelter for thousands of people forced to flee.
For a fifth day, lava flowing down the slopes of the volcano engulfed houses, schools and banana plantations, although more slowly than in previous days.
"Everything that started on Sunday as something out of the ordinary, something beautiful to watch, turned into a tragedy the next day," said Nancy Ferreiro, who owns a local jewellery business. "I have many friends there, families who have lost everything. Our hearts are broken."
Walls of black lava have advanced slowly westward since Sunday, incinerating everything in their path.
With more than 200 houses destroyed and thousands of peopleunable to return home, the Canary Islands' regional governmentsaid it would buy two housing developments with a combined 73properties for those made homeless. Spanish banks jointly announced they would offer vacant homes as emergency shelter.
Property portal Idealista estimated the volcano had so far destroyed property worth around 87 million euros ($102 million).
Volcanologists have said gases from the eruption are not harmful to health. But a plume of thick cloud now extends some 4.2 km (2.6 miles) into the air, raising concerns of visibility for flights. The airport remains open but authorities have told pilots to steer clear of the eruption site.
Prevailing winds are expected to propel the cloud eastward in the coming hours over the rest of the Canary archipelago, the Iberian peninsula and the Mediterranean, according to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.
Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Warning signs "may have been there for years"
One of the biggest questions that arises when a volcano erupts is whether it was possible to predict the event. According to an article in New Scientist, there may have been potential clues as to the volcanic activity at Cumbre Vieja.
Rafa Nadal sends message to La Palma
Spanish tennis superstar Rafa Nadal has tweeted a message of support...
"Following the news and suffering with the terrible images of the volcano eruption on La Palma and the consequences for so many affected families. Sending a big hug to all of you and hopefully this will end soon. We will try to contribute our grain of sand in due course."
Donation channels set up for those affected
Cabildo de La Palma has set up channels through which people can make donations to those affected by the volcanic eruption, which has so far displaced more than 5,300 people.
Details can be found here....
Firefighters on La Palma are digging a channel to redirect a river of lava in a desperate attempt save as much as they can of a town set to be flattened by molten rock flowing from the volcano.
Calls for two restricted air space zones
The Spanish government's Canay Islands Delegation has called for the creation of two restricted air space zones, where only state security forces and emergency services could enter. This will not affect commercial flights to the Canaries as commercial aeroplanes do not fly over the proposed zones.
350 building now destroyed by the lava
According to the latest radar images released by Copernicus EMS, 350 buildings have now been destroyed by the lava, with the lava flow now covering 166.2 hectares, a 14-hectare increase in the last 36 hours.
Ash covering in El Paso
Some video footage posted by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser shows the deep ash covering parts of El Paso...
Police using drones to stop opportunist thieves
Spain's Policia National are using drones to stop opportunist thieves attempting to burgle houses that have been evacuated due to the volcano. The drones are fitted with infra-red cameras so that they are also effective during the night, the police said. The move comes after security teams have encountered several instances of thieves trying to break into homes to steal the belongings of those evacuated.
Drone footage released NBC shows lava from the La Palma volcano consuming a swimming pool, trees, houses and an irrigation reservoir on its way to the coast.
The volcanic eruption on La Palma similar to previous events
The eruption from Cabeza de Vaca on Cumbre Vieja appears like it will follow the pattern of previous volcanic episodes on the island based on its behavior so far. It is expected that the lava will continue to spew from the mountain for weeks to come but will most likely not be explosive. The longest eruption was in 1585 and lasted 84 days, while the shortest and most recent was 1971 which lasted 25 days.