Volcano in the Canaries: lava reaches the sea, the threat of toxic gases increases – LCI

CONCERNS – After 10 days of eruption, lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano finally reached the ocean overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. A phenomenon feared by experts, because it is potentially dangerous.

The dreaded phenomenon has finally arrived. Lava from the volcano that erupted ten days ago on the island of La Palma, in the Spanish Canary Islands, reached the ocean overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. “The lava flow has reached the sea at Playa Nueva”, Involcan posted on its Twitter account shortly after 11 p.m. local time (Tuesday, 10 p.m. GMT). The “impact” generated a large volume of smoke and water vapor.

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 because of the production of toxic gases and harmful particles that it could cause, which makes it potentially very dangerous. For this reason, the regional government of the archipelago has decreed a “2 nautical mile exclusion radius” around the place of intended arrival. There exists a “possibility that there is a small shock when the magma enters the sea water and this small shock causes vapors which can be toxic”, underlined the technical director of the Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canaries (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende. “Inhalation or contact with acidic gases and liquids can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory tract, and may cause difficulty in breathing”, for his part said Involcan.

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For the time being, no information regarding the quantity of toxic gases produced or the dangerousness of the situation has been disclosed.

No casualties but thousands of evacuations

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on September 19. For ten days, he has been spitting huge columns of smoke reaching several hundred meters high, but also ashes. As of Tuesday afternoon, the lava, which has varied in speed over the past few days, even coming to a stop at one point, was still 800 meters from the sea, making it impossible to predict when it will be. would reach the ocean. So far, the eruption has left no deaths or injuries, but has resulted in the evacuation of more than 6,000 people who have had to leave their homes. Several experts estimate that it could last several weeks, even a few months.

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The state of natural disaster has been declared on the island of La Palma. The government on Tuesday released 10.5 million euros in direct aid to the victims of the eruption, in particular to buy housing for people whose house was engulfed by lava. In all, the damage would amount to more than 400 million euros.

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