La Palma volcano eruption officially declared over after months of destruction



(CBS NEWS)

After 85 days and eight hours of destruction, the Cumbre Vieja volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands has finally finished erupting, scientists announced Saturday. The volcanic eruption was the island of La Palma’s longest active eruption on record, according to Canary Island government officials.

“I have searched for the exact word to define our state of mind. It isn’t joy, I can’t say that we are happy, and it isn’t satisfaction either,” Julio Pérez, the Canary Islands’ minister of public administration, justice and security, said in Spanish on Saturday. “Today we feel relief. We can also add the word emotion, although we should also add the word hope. This unbearable litany of destruction has ended and now it’s time to rebuild, improve, remake and replace.”

The island’s volcanic emergency committee, PEVOLCA, said Cumbre Vieja first began erupting on September 19 and that it concluded on December 13 at 10:21 p.m. local time, with no more seismic activity detected since then.

However, Pérez warned, “The end of the eruption does not mean the end of the emergency.” He said the committee will continue to monitor the volcano, as there are still risks that could arise.

Approximately 7,000 people were evacuated, hundreds of acres were impacted, the island’s airport was closed for nearly 10 days, and over 1,000 houses and other buildings were affected by the months-long eruption. Pérez said teams are working to gradually rehouse the affected families.

The impact of the eruption could also be seen in the surrounding water where aquatic life and habitats were coated in ash. Residents on the island faced earthquakes, lava flows, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain.

Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain, called the conclusion of Cumbre Vieja’s eruption “the best Christmas present.”

“All my appreciation to the La Palma people,” Sánchez wrote on Twitter in Spanish. “We will continue working together, all institutions, to relaunch the marvelous island of La Palma and repair the damage.”


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