The residents of the Spanish island of La Palma received a Christmas present to remember on Saturday when the volcanic eruption that has unleashed rivers of lava for three months was finally declared over.
The volcano, which began erupting on the Atlantic island on September 19, suddenly went dormant on the evening of December 13. There have been no fissure-style eruptions or major seismic activity since.
The local emergency committee Pevolca said on Saturday that because there had been a cessation of activity for more than 10 days, experts were confident that the volcano had once again fallen silent.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called it "the best Christmas present."
"All my appreciation to the people of La Palma," he tweeted. "We will continue working together, all the institutions, to relaunch the wonderful island of La Palma and repair the damage caused."
2,900 buildings destroyed
It will be a tall task: More than 2,900 homes and other buildings were destroyed and nearly 1,200 hectares of the island were covered in a metre-thick layer of lava. The damage is estimated at more than 900 million euros (1 billion dollars).
People returning to their homes after being forced to flee lave flows were told to open their windows for at least 15 minutes to make sure any toxic gas that had accumulated could escape, state broadcaster RTVE reported.
And Pevolca spokesperson Miguel Angel Morcuende tempered the good news with a note of caution, stressing that the unnamed volcano remains unpredictable and could suddenly become active again in the future.