MADRID (AP) – Authorities in one of Spain’s Canary Islands declared a volcanic eruption that began in September officially ended on Saturday after 10 days with no lava flows, seismic activity or significant sulfur dioxide emissions.
But the emergency on La Palma, the northwesternmost island in the Atlantic archipelago, is not over yet due to the widespread damage caused by the eruption, said the director of the Canary Islands Volcano Emergency Committee when announcing the eagerly awaited milestone.
“It’s not joy or satisfaction – how can we define what we are feeling? It’s an emotional relief. And hope, ”said Pevolca director Julio Pérez. “Because we are now committed and can concentrate fully on the reconstruction.”
Fiery, molten rock flowing towards the sea destroyed around 3,000 buildings, buried banana plantations and vineyards, ruined irrigation systems and blocked roads. However, no injuries or deaths were directly linked to the eruption.
Pérez, who is also the region’s minister for public administration, justice and security, said the archipelago government estimates the loss of buildings and infrastructure at more than 900 million euros ($ 1 billion).
Volcanologists said they needed to confirm that three key variables – gas, lava, and tremors – had subsided in the Cumbre Vieja ridge for 10 days to explain the volcano’s apparent depletion. Since the eruption began on September 19, previous periods of lesser activity were followed by reignitions.
On the eve of December 14th, the volcano fell silent after it had flared up for 85 days and 8 hours, making it the longest eruption on La Palma ever.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the end of the outbreak “the best Christmas present”.
“We will continue to work together, all institutions, to revive the wonderful island of La Palma and to repair the damage,” he tweeted.
Agriculture and tourism are the main industries in the Canary Islands, which are a popular destination for many European vacationers due to their mild climate.
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