On Sunday 19th September 2021, we were at the Hiperdino supermarket in Mogan Mall when I got a notification to say that there had been a volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma. The message from INVOLCAN, simply said “¡Erupción!” with a photo of the first plume of smoke.
The area of the fissure and vents is a place known as Cabeza de Vacas on the western flank.
We attempted to do the rest of our shopping as I watched a live twitter feed on my phone, lava flying everywhere. Prior to this event, the last eruption on the Canary Islands was El Hierro underwater volcano in 2011.
The last volcanic eruption on La Palma was 50 years ago at Teneguia Volcano in south La Palma. I've always been fascinated with volcanos and islands so this was a historic moment.
The local news Television Canarias were setting up for their daily report when they caught the start of the eruption on the Cumbre Vieja in an area called Cabeza de Vacas, live on air at 15:12. At that time, La Palma was on yellow alert for risk of volcanic activity but this sudden eruption still took many by surprise.
Watch the La Palma volcanic eruption LIVE:
There was a 4,2 earthquake in the morning and risk of landslides, which prompted authorities to evacuate the elderly and disabled. Thankfully this let them have a head start at getting people to safety, others islanders had been told to have an emergency bag packed since the start of the week.
Here you can check the latest earthquakes from IGN: https://www.ign.es/web/ign/portal/ultimos-terremotos
So far there has been no loss of human life, but there has been devastating loss of property and livelihoods as many homes and businesses have been devoured by lava.
As I write this lava is flowing down the side of the island and is headed to the coast, where it is expected to reach the water by early hours of the morning. La Palma is now on Red Alert and there are warnings about the different types of gases that may form when the sea water and lava react. One of these is ‘acid rain' which can cause severe respiratory and skin problems.
Scientists have said that based on previous eruptions on the island, this could be going for weeks and months, even longer.
UPDATE Friday 24th September 2021 – dAY 6
(17:16pm) Thick black smoke is emitting from the volcano and it's looking very angry. People have been advised to wear goggles, masks and long sleeves to protect themselves from the ash.
(15:45pm) The original lava flow slowed and is yet to reach the Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile this afternoon the volcano became more explosive while emitting loud shock waves.
PEVOLCA has ordered EVACUATION for Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the non-evacuated part of Tacande de Arriba. The meeting point is the football ground at El Paso.
(15:40) A new vent has opened on the flank of the active cone. A new lava stream is flowing.
(14:54) Binter have temporarily grounded flights to and from La Gomera island due to the ash cloud from La Palma volcano.
(13:01) Iberia flight to La Palma cancelled this afternoon due to the ash cloud and volcanic eruption.