Europe

Where are the victims of the La Palma volcano eruption one year on?

A year after the Tajogaite volcano in Spain’s La Palma erupted destroying homes and businesses, many of those affected by the lava and ashes are still rebuilding their lives and looking for answers.

Leticia Sanchez’s house was one of the first to be buried in lava and even now she still feels like she’s living day to day.

At first, she stayed with friends for a few months. Then in May this year, she was able to move into a prefabricated house provided by the government. Like many of the islanders, her family’s life has changed completely. 

Her daughter Ayna said that when she lost her house it was like someone died. 

“My house was my home, the only home I had and it was gone and now we have to find another one,” she explained.

According to regional authorities, only five of the 121 prefabricated houses purchased by the government have been put in place for the people left homeless by the volcano.

A Volcano Victims’ group, reports that some 250 people are still living in hotels and 150 are staying with friends and relatives. 

Juan Fernándo Pérez is the president of an association of people affected by the volcano. He is frustrated by administrative delays and asked for a loan to be able to live in a more modest house. He describes the authorities’ response in three ways: “Wanting to forget, silent and complacent.”

So far the government has allocated more than €500 million to rebuilding, cleaning up and helping people who have lost their jobs.

However, people like Eulalia Villaba survive on aid. She is part of a group of people in limbo. Her flat and business are still standing, but she can’t access them. 

In Puerto Nao and La Bombilla areas, gases from the volcano are said to be lethal and they are prohibited to the public.

She has been told that this situation could last for months or years. One year after the tragic destruction caused by the lava, still over 1100 people are still stuck in desolation.


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