La Palma: The Spanish island that spent 85 days at the mercy of a volcano

It began in September
Thousands displaced
Saving the crops
Life under the threat of a volcano
Geographic changes
Astonishing (but terrifying) pictures
Financial damages
Volcano tourism
Teneguía, 1971
All sorts of theories
The everlasting lava flow
Life continued, despite the ashes
Next door to a volcano
Rumbling
The beginning of the end
Officially over
For how long?
Snapshots of 2021
Volcanic allure
Waiting for the next eruption
It began in September

On September 19, 2021, smoke and lava started coming out of Cumbre Vieja, a volcano on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. It was the end of the summer, and the Spanish archipelago off the shore of Africa was going to change forever.

Thousands displaced

This small island, which mostly lives off tourism and growing bananas, found itself threatened by lava.
Around six thousand islanders were vacated from their homes, according to the Spanish newspaper El País.

Saving the crops

The banana farmers began a race against time to save their crops. Images of people saving banana bunches from the volcano's ashes became iconic.

Life under the threat of a volcano

The people from La Palma tried their best to live near an unstoppable volcanic eruption. Weeks passed, and the lava continued flowing. The constant rumble of the eruption, the ashes, and the fire became part of everyday life.

Geographic changes

Massive quantities of lava slid down the mountains and reached the sea. There, it became a solid mass that has become an extension of the island's terrain. The Copernicus programme, the satellite system of the European Space Agency, found that La Palma grew 0,43 square kilometers.

Astonishing (but terrifying) pictures

The Cumbre Vieja eruption in La Palma gave the world amazing images, but the unleashing of nature also caused a human tragedy. People were homeless and out of work because of the volcano.

Financial damages

Economic losses due to the volcanic eruption are estimated to have surpassed one billion US dollars.

Volcano tourism

Tourism went into a freefall on the island, but new visitors also came to see a rare natural event: the lengthy volcano eruption after many years of complete inactivity.

Teneguía, 1971

Before Cumbre Vieja, the previous volcanic eruption in La Palma was Teneguía, in 1971. It was less severe and only lasted 24 days. The 85 days of the most recent eruption are a new record for La Palma.

All sorts of theories

Images of the eruption in La Palma caused all sorts of wild theories. One claimed that it could cause a tsunami that might hit New York City.

The everlasting lava flow

Islanders felt that the volcano would never stop, like a nightmare that doesn't end.

Life continued, despite the ashes

Life continued despite the ashes falling on the towns across the island. Children attended school and people went to work, or at least those whose jobs had been unaffected by the volcano.

Next door to a volcano

They will never forget when they were living next door to an active volcano for 85 days.

Rumbling

Witnesses' accounts reported by Spanish media tell of a constant rumbling sound coming from the volcano. A few days before Christmas 2021, it went quiet.

The beginning of the end

The volcano went silent on December 13. Experts demanded caution. There were times, during the months of activity, that it seemed that the eruption stopped only to continue spitting lava.

Officially over

On December 26, Spanish authorities finally declared that the eruption had ended. The nightmare was over in La Palma. At least for the time being.

For how long?

The Cumbre Vieja eruption makes it clear that volcanoes can go off at any moment, no matter how long they have been inactive. The Canary Islands, the archipelago La Palma forms part of, is a place of major volcanic activity.

Snapshots of 2021

2021 has seen the Covid-19 pandemic and other dystopian moments, but the images of the volcanic eruption in La Palma added an apocalyptic flair to current news.

Volcanic allure

Eyes and cameras focused on the volcano for weeks. It's impossible to deny the allure of the unmitigated nature and the consequences that its fury brought.

Waiting for the next eruption

La Palma residents are trying to return to their normal lives after 85 days of volcanic activity, Now it's time for the islanders to rebuild their homes and hope that the next eruption is far, far away.

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