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A year on, the volcanic scar marks the Spanish island of La Palma

MADRID – A 6km-long black lava scar across the Spanish island of La Palma is still evidence of a 3-month volcanic eruption that may have left no casualties but has devastated many lives.

As officials held Monday ceremonies to mark the first day of the start of one of the most televised volcanic eruptions of the century in Europe, the Spanish island is in the archipelago. The Canary off the northwest coast of Africa isn’t like that, geologically. , economically, or socially.

Under the thick slab of molten rock – still slowly cooling from the original 1,140 degrees Celsius (2,084 degrees Fahrenheit) – some 3,000 buildings have been buried along with many banana plantations, roads and irrigation systems.

Along with agriculture, tourism plays an important role in the island’s economy. But half of the 8,000 registered places to stay are still closed due to the presence of toxic gases – the same reason that around 170 locals still live in hotel rooms.

The former tourist destination of Puerto Naos has been described by the local press as a ghost town. The lava did not reach the town, but high levels of CO2 forced its 1,000 inhabitants to evacuate. Most are staying with loved ones, and all continue to wonder when they will be allowed to return home.

La Palma – population 84,790 – has become a gathering place for many politicians and dignitaries. Cabinet members including Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez have visited the island 60 times, mostly to announce new aid packages. Queen Letizia recently selected La Palma for her annual visit to a school at the beginning of the school year.

Public funds for reconstruction support totaling 566 million euros ($564 million) were transferred by the government.

However, a group of people affected by the volcano plan to mark the anniversary on Monday with a protest over what they see as bad fund management.

Others resent the fact that when the roar of the volcano died down after 85 days, the solidarity was gone.

“Politicians don’t really care about us,” said banana farmer Juan Carlos Rodríguez. He said the subsidies were not enough.

However, some entrepreneurs are looking to reshape their businesses and exploit the eruption.

AstroLaPalma used to offer nighttime stargazing programs under clear Canary Island skies. Now, owner Ana García guides visitors in awe through volcanic ash.

The volcano doesn’t actually have a name prior to its eruption, although it is better known as Cumbre Vieja – the name of the surrounding national park. This summer, islanders voted to call it Tajogaite – the name of the area in the ancient Guanche language.

This is the first year of a new era for volcanic islands and the locals are also determined to thrive.

Just two months ago, islanders were able to claim a small victory over the volcano with the opening of a new path built on lava rock to connect the two sides of the Aridane Valley split in half by the eruption. surge.

The road takes a two-hour drive to reach the detached homes, shortening children’s schooling and allowing access to the remaining banana plantations in the valley.

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