La Palma covered in lava, smoke, and ash as the volcano threatens banana crop

Lava and smoke rise following the eruption of a volcano in Los Llanos de Aridane, on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain, September 22, 2021. Picture taken with drone. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

On Thursday, on Spain's La Palma, jets of red-hot lava erupted into the sky as a large cloud of toxic ash floated toward the mainland from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, jeopardizing the island's economically significant banana harvests.

Since Sunday, lava walls have quietly marched westward, consuming everything in their path, including houses, schools, and some banana fields, turning black when exposed to the air.

Farmers near Todoque raced to rescue as much of their crop as possible, loading their vehicles high with bags of the green bananas, which provide a living for many islanders.

From the window of his vehicle, a farmer named Roberto remarked, "We're just trying to take everything we can."

According to Sergio Caceres, manager of the producer's group Asprocan, 15 percent of La Palma's 140 million kilograms annual banana production could be jeopardized if growers are unable to enter farms and tend to their crops."The main tragedy is that houses have been destroyed — many of those affected are banana producers or employees — but their livelihood is further down the hill" he said."We'vee already covered some farms"

According to Caceres, farmers have already suffered losses, who warned that if lava pollutes the water supply, it may cause issues for months.

Around a fourth of the CanaryIslands'' renowned bananas, which have a protected designation of origin status, are grown on the island.

With almost 200 homes damaged and thousands of people unable to return home, the Canary Islands regional administration announced it would purchase two housing developments totaling 73 homes for individuals who have been displaced. Spanish banks have stated that they will give unoccupied properties on the Canary Islands as an emergency refuge.

The property portal Idealista reported that the volcano had destroyed 87 million euros ($102 million) in the property so far.

Experts had expected that the lava would reach the Atlantic Ocean late Monday, but it has slowed to a glacial speed of roughly 4 meters per hour, and authorities have said that it may halt before reaching the water.

The gases emitted by the eruption, according to volcanologists, are not dangerous to human health. However, a plume of dense cloud has already extended 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) into the air, posing a threat to flight vision. The airport is still operating, but authorities have set up two exclusion zones where only authorized planes can fly.

According to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, the cloud is predicted to move northeast across the rest of the Canary Islands, the Iberian peninsula, and the Mediterranean.

Air quality had not been damaged at surface level, according to the national weather service AEMET, which ruled out acid rain falling over the mainland or the Balearic Islands and even stated it was improbable in the Canary Islands.

To avoid ingesting the hazardous ash, local authorities have advised residents to sanitize their food and clothing.

Publish : 2021-09-23 19:25:00

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