‘It’s like a huge loneliness, a sadness’: Weeping for those who’ve lost everything to the La Palma volcano

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Le Palma’s donation centre is a place for evacuated residents to find clothes and food, and also a place for them to console each other. 

I met Rosy outside, she was picking up a box of tins and fruit for her family. Her town was one of the first to be evacuated on the island.

She starts crying as soon as she starts talking about the damage from the eruption. Her sister comforts her but there is nothing she can say to change what’s happened. Their cousin lost everything, his house was swallowed by lava.

Rosy found out over the weekend that the molten streams missed her house but she keeps crying thinking about others who haven’t been so fortunate.

“It’s like a huge loneliness, a sadness – we don’t know where we are, it’s really really hard. But we’ve got strength and we are all supporting each other through the uncertainty,” she says.

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La Palma Volcano: Lava about to enter sea

These are extremely uncertain times for the island. Scientists can’t predict when the volcano will stop erupting.

Experts fear what will happen if the lava continues towards the sea. The impact would create explosions of toxic vapour full of hydrochloric acid. It would be dangerous to breathe in and irritate the eyes and skin of nearby residents. People in coastal areas are being told to stay home.

More on La Palma Volcano Eruption

Padre Domingo Guerra's church is a refuge for those that have fled their homes
Image:
Padre Domingo Guerra’s church is a refuge for those that have fled their homes

Across the island there is fear and desperation. Padre Domingo Guerra’s church is just outside of the evacuated area below the volcano. Some 14 members of his congregation have lost their houses.

“Emotionally it’s affecting a lot of people,” he says. “The older people are stronger, but they’re afraid of losing even more than they’ve already lost. But the younger people, they’re scared too, because it’s a new experience, therefore it creates a lot of questions for them.”

Padre Guerra’s church is a refuge from the ash that coats everything on the island. The roads are dangerous to drive on because the ash makes them slippery.

A man sweeps ash from the volcano in Santa Cruz de la Palma Pic: AP
Image:
A man sweeps ash from the volcano in Santa Cruz de la Palma Pic: AP

Every morning, since the eruptions started, the islanders have tried to clear the ash from the pavements, even from the roofs of buildings.

They don’t know how long they’ll have to do this for. All they can do is wait to see what happens.

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