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State of shock, stress, anxiety: “It’s a horror movie”, they say in the Canary Islands under the eruption of the volcano

“This is a horror movie”says Willy Rodríguez, a resident of the Canary Island of La Palma, in Spain, who saw, as in slow motion, the advance of lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, erupting since Sunday, over his parents’ house .

“It is as if a part of our soul is ripped out. It is very difficult to assimilate and have optimism in the future ”, says Willy about the volcanic eruption that It has already destroyed more than one hundred hectares and devoured almost 200 homes of an island that lives mainly from agriculture and, to a lesser extent, from tourism.

“For the inhabitants it has been a real disgrace. When the fires go out, do not forget these hundreds of affected families “, he asks, one of more than 6,000 evacuees they had to leave their homes.

Many neighbors already suffer from states of shock, anxiety, fear, stress, say the psychologists who are assisting them.

The duel

Grief is not just the death of a loved one. It is a loss. From our belongings, from work, from a relationship. Here we are in a situation of mourning ”, says Cristina García, provincial coordinator of the Group for Psychological Intervention in Emergencies and Disasters.

“In emergency psychology we work with the communication of bad news and in this case not even that since the neighbors see with their own eyes what is happening with their homes and their fields,” adds the psychologist about the eruption of the volcano that it already has nine mouths for which the flow of smoke, rivers of lava, gases and solid remains of incandescent rock is incessant.

For Jesús Ibáñez, professor of the Department of Theoretical Physics and of the Cosmos of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Granada, people should have been evacuated earlier.

“It is not the same to do an emergency evacuation of 5,000 people in a few hours, where the person does not have time to take out their things, that the population had been prepared between 24 and 48 hours before “, he says Clarion Ibáñez, who is a seismographer and volcanologist, with extensive experience in Argentine Patagonia.

Please note one thing: these evacuations are not short term. That is, for those people who have lost their home, evacuation is defective but there will be people who, even with their houses intact, will not be able to return in the coming weeks or months, ”he clarifies.


“The scientific community had clear evidence through the deformation of the terrain and seismicity that the eruption was imminent,” says Ibáñez. I know that in the Emergency Committee, both colleagues from the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute and those from the National Geographic Institute, raised the need for the traffic light was orange, that is, ‘we are going to evacuate’, and that was not the political decision. “

The expert lists: “People with mobility problems were evacuated that same morning (Sunday morning, hours before the eruption that began at 3.15pm, 9.15am Argentine time),” he points out. There were people who were doing their asado, hikers who were hiking. There was a lot of luck, but also relaxation on the part of certain classes. The scientist advises but does not execute ”.

Isn’t it necessary to mourn victims just by chance?

“Luck always exists,” says the volcanologist. If the eruption had been about 400 meters lower, it would have affected a population that had not been evacuated. “



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