Thursday. 23.05.2024

The damage so far caused by the volcanic eruption on the Canary island of La Palma is believed to have reached some 700 million euros (790 million dollars), according to official estimates.

"But we are still in the middle (of the catastrophe)," Canarian Prime Minister Angel Victor Torres was quoted as saying in El Pais daily newspaper on Friday, adding that the damage was increasing by the minute.

Since the volcano began to erupt on 19 September, the lava, at temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Celsius, has destroyed more than 2,600 buildings, according to a recent assessment by the European earth observation system Copernicus.

According to this, more than 1,040 hectares of land have been covered by a metre-thick layer of lava. This area corresponds to more than 1,450 football fields or about 1.4 per cent of the island's total territory.

More than 7,000 of a total of 85,000 inhabitants have been evacuated since the eruption began. Some 66 kilometres of roads on the Cumbre Vieja mountain range in the south of the island have been damaged and are currently impassable.

'Worst months in history'

Bus driver Juan Jose Lorenzo told El Pais: "Before the volcanic eruption, it took me ten minutes to get to work. Now it's one and a half hours."

The president of the island council, Mariano Hernandez Zapata, spoke of the "worst months in the island's history."

The activity of the volcano, which has no name, has steadily decreased in recent weeks and the lava flows have slowed considerably.

However, according to experts, an end to the volcanic activity is not in sight, at least not in the short term. This is indicated by the numerous tremors that are still being recorded at depths of more than 30 kilometres below the lava and ash spewing volcano.

La Palma counts cost of damage two months after volcanic eruption