The Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma is intensifying, sending an ash cloud high into the sky and grounding flights, after a politician suggested bombing it.
The intensification of the eruption has come in the wake of comments by the President of the Municipal Council of the neighbouring island of La Gomera suggesting the volcano be bombed.
Casimiro Curbelo told local radio station Radio Faycan last week: “Isn’t there a plane that flies and can drop… today the technology is very reliable… and boom! And send the lava in a different direction?
“Maybe it’s madness, but I get the impression from a technological point of view that it should be attempted.”
Spanish news site Telecinco reported that as of yesterday, 1st November, the eruption is continuing to intensify well over a month after the first recorded eruption on 19th September.
According to Telecinco, the amount of lava and ash spewing from the volcano has resulted in the Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canary Islands (PEVOLCA) calling for residents of five of the 14 municipalities on the island to remain indoors.
It added that if someone has to leave their home, they should wear protective goggles and a surgical mask.
The increasing volcanic activity has seen two earthquakes take place measuring around five on the magnitude scale.
La Palma Airport is currently closed, with all flights grounded as a result of the ash cloud, according to local media outlet Antena 3. it is currently unclear when the airport will reopen. It was initially shut down for a 24-hour period on 25th September, according to Euronews.
According to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, an EU programme that monitors natural disasters, the eruption has so far resulted in the destruction of 2,183 buildings and burnt 911.6 hectares (2253 ac) of land.
The damage done to the island’s tourism industry has not yet been calculated, but it is likely to have dealt a severe blow to what was already a fragile financial situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
No mention of Curbelo’s idea of bombing the volcano is reported to be expected to be put into practice.
As farfetched as it sounds, the idea is with precedent. As early as 1935, the US Army bombed lava flows from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.
As sceptics pointed out, however, the fact that the flows ceased around a week later did not definitely prove the bombing campaign actually made a difference.