The lagoon empties. The threat of the wash that runs north of the soccer field of La Palma town and that has been swallowed, in part, by the heat of the lava, has forced to evacuate in a preventive way the rest of the neighborhood in which 1,600 residents are registered. Yesterday there were 300 more than they had to leave their homes to their fate –400 with those on Wednesday night–, taking with them their belongings, animals and last memories.
They were repeated, for the fifth time since the eruption began, some images to which the palmeros, unfortunately, are getting used to. The rush, the trucks full of furniture and the collaboration of the security forces and bodies to try that the residents of La Laguna could collect all the possible belongings in a short time, was once again the keynote of the day in Los Llanos de Aridane .
Under the intense roar of a volcano that has no signs of stopping expelling materials in the short term, scientists showed a glimmer of hope regarding the area most affected in recent days: “the laundry that It runs through the north and is losing strength as it gains viscosity ».
This was stated by the Pevolca technical director, Miguel Ángel Morcuende, who stressed, however, that they were forced to make the decision to evacuate the entire La Laguna because “we cannot depend on whether the viscosity of the wash is higher or lower.” Its objective: to guarantee the absolute safety of the people who live in the area. The new displaced persons in this fifth evacuation order now add up to 6,400 residents who have had to abandon their homes to the fate of an unpredictable volcano. As confirmed by the technical director of Pevolca, there are currently 287 people housed in the Fuencaliente hotel and the rest are in other residences or accommodation of family and friends.
A very quick wash
The stream that runs further northwest, however, has no signs of stopping. The town of Los Llanos de Aridane is challenging the lava flow that timidly began to fork in the north last Sunday. This eventuality coincides with the change in the volcano morphology that, when it fell, caused the lava to begin to flow through a different area than the one that had done so until then. This lava, in addition, is much more liquid than the one that emanated in its first weeks of life –come from a deeper magmatic reservoir– so he has also raced down the slope at a much higher speed.
So much so that in the last 24 hours, according to data provided by the Copernicus satellite yesterday morning, it destroyed 90 buildings and buried 24 more hectares. This assumes that, since it erupted, the volcano has destroyed a total of 1,548 buildings and left another 86 in serious condition. It has also destroyed 674 hectares.
The General Directorate of Cadastre, for its part, counts a total of 992 buildings affected, of which 809 are homes, 95 tool rooms, 47 industrial buildings, 22 catering and leisure centers and 8 facilities for public use. Lava flows are affecting three municipalities: El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte. However, the one that has taken the worst part, in material damage, has been Los Llanos. The lava has buried more than 637 buildings of all kinds in this municipality. It is followed by the damage in El Paso, which adds 226 buildings affected, and Tazacorte, with 120. As for the area of crops, the 179 hectares destroyed are already exceeded. Of these, 92.97 are banana trees, 50.17 hectares are vineyards and 12.21 are avocados, among other crops. The roads have been affected so far in 43,185 meters of which 65% correspond to Los Llanos, 20% correspond to the municipality of El Paso and 14.68% to Tazacorte.
Air quality will get worse
Meanwhile, concern is growing about the quality of the air near the cone, as it may again lead to home confinement for the inhabitants of the areas surrounding the volcano. When the height of the ash and gas column reaches 2,600 meters – a little lower than on other occasions – the meteorological situation, with high winds, has improved air quality on La Palma. This occurs because the wind moves the plume to the west.
Thanks to this change in wind direction, the island’s airport, located in the east, has been able to operate with a certain ease. However, María José Blanco, the director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) warned that this may change in the next few hours. And the fact is that the island, like the rest of the Archipelago, will experience a new intrusion of Saharan air that will prevent harmful particles from dispersing. Therefore, a worsening of air quality is expected, which in these days has been below the limits imposed by current legislation. Hence, experts insist on the need for the population to use FFP2 masks in certain most affected areas, such as Los Llanos de Aridane.