Police will continue to enforce the state of emergency on La Palma. / EFE

La Palma’s volcano eruption officially declared over on Christmas Day

The regional government in the Canary Islands will, however, maintain the state of emergency as risks remain

R.C.

After some three months the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma was declared over by officials on Christmas Day.

The Canary Islands regional government minister, Julio Pérez, made the announcement about the end of volcanic activity on 25 December although he said the state of emergency would remain.

Pérez delivered the good news after the daily meeting of the Pevolca risk and emergency programme and was accompanied by the group’s Miguel Ángel Morcuende, as well as by a spokesperson for the Scientific Committee, María José Blanco. Pérez said he felt "relief" because now they will be able to dedicate themselves "fully" to the recovery of the destroyed areas.

The minister pointed out that the Pevolca plan will continue "at the same emergency level", qualifying that he does not believe that the alert will lifted through the month of January, because while a danger remains, it should be kept activated.

Pérez said that "gases, ash and heat" are still present, and therefore the risks remain, although he pointed out that unlike the eruption, which was an unknown when it could end, these risks are known to be dimishing.

REUTERS

Now, he said, it is time to act, and the rehousing plan will begin to be studied immediately, stressing it "will have to be safe, orderly and gradual" while work is done to restore basic services.

Longest on record

With the declaration of the end of the eruption, the volcano maintained activity for 97 days, by far the longest eruption since records began on La Palma, and certainly the longest in almost 450 years. Christmas Day took it 13 days ahead of the eruption on 19 May in 1585, of the Tajuya volcano, which lasted 84 days, until 11 August.

7,000 residents evacuated

During its three months of activity, the Cumbre Vieja volcano forced evacuation of some 7,000 residents who lived in areas of potential danger. Some 2,329 lost their homes, as they were located in the 1,219 hectares of the island that have been buried under rivers of lava, earth and rocks spewed out by the volcano. There are still 556 evacuated residents staying in hotels.