La Palma Volcano impacts agriculture and water supply

  • 06 Oct 2021
  • Lisa

The Volcano which affected less than 8% of the island has destroyed up to 1046 buildings, including farming infrastructure which cultivates half of the islands economic output

La Palma, a volcanic archipelago experienced its first volcanic eruption since 1971. Tons of lava erupted from the volcano and made its way through small towns leading to the La Palma beach, where it eventually collided with the sea. The eruption started on September 19th and is still ongoing after reaching La Palma beach on the 28th September.

The Spanish government has pledged to invest millions in rebuilding the island after the Volcano damaged 1046 public buildings and homes. Significant farming infrastructure has also been put at risk as La Palmas banana crop has been ravaged by the volcano’s scorching heat and volcanic dust -leaving the crop unsuitable for sale. La Palma depends on Banana cultivation for up to half of its economic output which means the impact to the economy due to a delay in production would be significant.

Reuters reported that up to 15% of the islands annual production would be at risk which endangers more than 5,000 jobs in the industry. Lava from Cumbre Vieja have melted the water connection for up to 3,000 people in Las Hoyas, El Remo, Puerto Naos and La Bombilla. A breakage in the water pipes also affects farming production on the Island.

Scientists recorded eight earth quakes up to the magnitude of 3.5 this weekend, and warned that breathing difficulties and skin and eye irritation would be a chemical reaction from the collision of lava and the sea.

Up to 6,000 residents in towns around the volcano were evacuated from their homes. Spanish authorities imposed stay at home orders for other towns nearby to ensure the toxic gases which filled the air were not a harm to human life. People were asked to keep their doors and windows closed until the air quality improved.

Flights suffering suspensions going to and from the Island have become frequent amongst airlines as the ash makes it harder for pilots to fly. Airline TUI has cancelled all holidays to La Palma as of October 1st leaving tourists stranded on the Island.

But for many tourists, the Volcanic eruption has become a vital tourist attraction to the Island and many are paying hundreds to witness the eruption in person. Many tourists are taking up the beds which could be used for evacuated residents and emergency services. Juan Pablo, Manager at Ashotel says that “Now is not the moment for tourism for La Palma, it’s the time to help, and these people are not doing that and are instead occupying beds that could, for example, be used by the security forces.”

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About the author

Lisa Hanley

Journalist

Lisa Hanley is an In - house Journalist working for The BCI. With a Masters degree in Televison Journalism from City, University of London, Lisa has previously worked as a Freelance Producer and Journalist for London Live, PA Media and Thomson Reuters Foundation. Her experience varies from producing documentaries, films and podcasts, to producing news packages for television and voiceovers for radio.