Residents of Spanish island return home after volcanic eruption

Almost a thousand residents who were evacuated after the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja Volcano on La Palma, Spain, have been permitted to return home.

The occupants were permitted to return to an area of roughly 345 hectares to the north of the eruption, which began on September 19, 2021 and was formally declared over on December 25, according to Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcano Risk Prevention Plan.

The municipalities of Tacande, Tajuya, Las Matelas, La Condesda, Marina Alta, and Marina Baja are now deemed safe, although residents are advised to avoid places below ground level, such as garages, that may still retain potentially poisonous gases emitted by the mountain.

Residents have also been advised not to return home alone and to air the premises for at least 15 minutes before turning on the electricity, due to the possibility of gas. Nearly 7,000 people were forced to flee their houses within hours of the eruption on September 19, with many just having a few minutes to collect a few possessions.

Another 564 people are still being kept in hotels and another 40 in social centres on the island, according to Morcuende. Images from a European Union satellite's Copernicus Earth monitoring programme reveal that lava has covered 1,241 hectares of land (about a fifth of which was arable).

The eruption, which was the longest on record for the island, also destroyed 2,988 houses.

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