Volunteers try to dig out homes buried under ash on La Palma
14th October 2021

The town lost beneath volcanic ash: Volunteers try to dig out one of HUNDREDS of houses completely buried on La Palma – as island is hit by largest earthquake since the eruption

  • Video shows men digging desperately to free homes buried beneath toxic ash
  • The Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on September 19, forcing evacuations, destroying buildings and blanketing the island in thick black ash
  • Last night, a magnitude -4.5 earthquake was felt throughout the island  
  • Scientists say volcanic activity is not likely to end ‘in the short or medium term’ 

Volunteers are working to dig out hundreds of homes buried under toxic ash in La Palma, as the island was last night hit by the strongest earthquake since a volcanic eruption almost a month ago.

Footage filmed by local Juanma Hernandez shows homes barely visible under a mountain of black ash. 

Volunteers with face masks on can be seen desperately digging with spades to uncover the buildings. 

The surrounding hills are also blanketed with ash, with tree tops peeking out from within the heaps.

The camera pans to reveal that as far as the eye can see, the landscape is completely black with ash.

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Volunteers are working to dig out hundreds of homes buried under toxic ash in La Palma, as the island was last night hit by the strongest earthquake since a volcanic eruption almost a month ago

In a video, the surrounding hills are blanketed with ash, with tree tops peeking out from within the heaps

‘If anyone wants to know how much ash has been left near the La Palma Volcano, watch this video,’ Hernandez said.

‘It’s brutal.’

Blocks of red lava, some as big as three story buildings, rolled down the hillside as La Palma volcano collapsed on itself on Sunday.

Volcanic ash has jagged edges that can cause irritation to eyes, nose and lungs, making breathing difficult. 

Volunteers are working non stop to clear roads and public buildings.

Clearing the roads is an important task for the volunteers as the thick layer of ash stops vehicles from moving.

One viewer Dave said: ‘Oh my Lord, that’s infinite work, snow melts but this…’

Another said: ‘I had not seen such a catastrophe in at least a decade since the 2011 tsunami in Japan, I hope the island can recover from this.’ 

The video emerged as the island was shaken by a 4.5-magnitude earthquake – the strongest since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on September 19. 

Scientists on Wednesday night registered more than 60 earthquakes, of which the biggest was felt across the whole of the island.

The 24-hour monitoring volcanic surveillance network of the National Geographic Institute has recorded a total of 55 earthquakes since midnight around the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, eight of them with magnitudes greater than three.

The 4.5-magnitude quake hit the municipality of Villa de Mazo, in the island’s south west, at 2.27am.  

Footage filmed by local Juanma Hernandez shows homes barely visible under a mountain of black ash

‘I was lying in bed watching TV and I felt the bed moving. It was like someone was walking on the roof, the windows were vibrating and it woke my dog up,’ one island resident recalled.  

Scientists say the volcanic activity is not likely to end ‘in the short or medium term’.

‘The volcano is releasing a plume of gases 3,000 metres high with high amounts of sulfur dioxide, 17,774 tons per day, and that measure would have to drop to 100 to think that the eruption is coming to an end, ‘ spokeswoman for the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan, María José Blanco said.

There are now three lava tongues pouring from the volcano, one of them moving at 50 metres an hour. 

Last night, the Special Plan for Volcanic Emergencies of the Canary Islands (PEVOLCA) ordered the evacuation of new districts in the municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane.

Air quality is described as good and an easterly wind is expected, which will allow the ash to move west towards the sea. At the moment all the Canarian airports are fully operational.

The video emerged as the island was shaken by a 4.5-magnitude earthquake – the strongest since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on September 19. Pictured: An eruption on Thursday morning

Tour operator TUI have cancelled flights to the island due to the continued volcanic eruption and ash clouds making flights to the island dangerous. 

So far, 680 hectares have been affected by the lava and 1,500 properties destroyed. Nearly 100 houses were devoured in the last 24 hours. 

The lava has also destroyed about 90 hectares of banana trees in the coastal area of ​​the Aridane Valley.

The eruption has forced the evacuation of 6,400 people, 5,700 in the first phase of the eruption and another 700 on Tuesday.

Around 6,000 residents and 400 tourists among the evacuated were transferred to Tenerife. Of these, 280 people are housed in the Princess hotel in Fuencaliente.

Weather forecasts suggest that the airport’s operations will not be affected for at least the next three days, because a Saharan wind will blow from the continent, directing the ashes to the west. 

However, dry air and a probable reversal may bring poor air quality tomorrow and the following day.

There are now three lava tongues pouring from the volcano, one of them moving at 50 metres an hour. Pictured: Lava flowing from the volcano on Wednesday night

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