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Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in La Palma: local tragedy or tourist attraction?

Photo+courtesy+of+Desiree+Martin%2C+Getty+Images.%0AA+volcano+along+the+Cumbre+Vieja+ridge+has+been+erupting+on+the+island+since+Sep.+19%2C+2021.
Photo courtesy of Desiree Martin, Getty Images. A volcano along the Cumbre Vieja ridge has been erupting on the island since Sep. 19, 2021.

On Sep. 19, the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting along the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma. As of Nov. 6, the volcano is on its seventh week of eruption. 

Though there have been no deaths as a result of the eruption, the volcano has covered over 2000 acres of land with lava. 

Many have lost their homes due to lava flow, and there have been serious implications for the agriculture and tourism industries of La Palma, a once romantic getaway destination and major banana exporter. 

In addition to lava and ash, the La Palma community is at risk for earthquakes, acid rain and toxic gases. 

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According to Elizabeth Gamillo, a writer for the Smithsonian magazine, “As seismic activity continues to increase, La Palma could be hit with an earthquake measuring a six on the Richter magnitude scale.” As a result, The Canaries’ Volcano Risk Prevention Plan ordered an evacuation of around 5,000 people. 

Nevertheless, Euro News reports that thousands of tourists are expected to visit La Palma to see the erupting volcano. This has frustrated many local residents who have had to evacuate or who have lost their homes due to the eruption. 

“I don’t think it is right to try to travel to Palma at such a dangerous and devastating time,” Said Ana Cepeda, a local from Sevilla, Spain. “The community’s resources need to be saved to help those in need and not feed and house tourists.” 

Additionally, Jordan Davis ‘22, a senior from Indiana University, said, “I think when tragedies like this happen we forget about the other things going on in the world like COVID-19. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and I don’t think people should be traveling to vulnerable areas anywhere right now.” 

In contrast, Carolina Main ‘22, a student from Wofford College said, “I think I would go to La Palma. I’ve learned about volcanoes erupting in school my whole life, and this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to go see that happen. I do feel bad for the people living there and would even take over medicine or other supplies that are needed in the community.” 

John Beecy ‘23, another student from Wofford College said, “it sounds like the economy of La Palma has been hit hard especially because tourism is one of its main industries.” 

“To me it sounds like the volcano eruption is a new opportunity to attract tourists and spur the economy,” Beecy said. “There is definitely a risk associated with going there, but the chance to go see an erupting volcano is one in a million.”

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