Spain’s prime minister has announced that his government will speed up already promised aid to help the thousands of residents on La Palma whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by a protracted volcanic eruption.
On his fifth visit since the Atlantic island was shaken by the September 19 eruption, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that his government would pass new measures this week to help millions of euros in aid to reach those in need.
Mr Sanchez’s government had already assigned 63 million euros (£53 million) in direct aid, with another six million euros (£5 million) for the local farming and fishing industries in the impacted area.
Lava flows from the eruption on the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge have damaged or destroyed more than 2,100 buildings, mostly houses and farms.
The molten rock, which has covered more than 2,100 acres, has also knocked out irrigation systems and roads in the largely agricultural area.
Though most of the island of 85,000 people off north-west Africa is unaffected by the eruption, part of the western side is facing an uncertain future.
The lava flows are still going strong more than a month later, gobbling up more buildings and forming newly-born land where it has reached the sea.
Locals are also feeling the toll of the non-stop roar from the volcano and the constant series of low-level earthquakes under their island.
About 7,500 residents have had to be evacuated from their homes in prompt action by authorities that has prevented the loss of any lives. Most have taken refuge with family or friends but around 430 people are in temporary lodgings provided by the local government.
The Canary Islands government is buying up empty apartments to house those whose homes have been demolished. It has also pledged to modify regulations to help rebuilding efforts once the eruption finally stops.
But the end is nowhere in sight, warned Canary Islands president Angel Víctor Torres.
“We still have weeks ahead of us,” Mr Torres said. “We are living through some very difficult times. (But) no resident of La Palma will have to leave the island to continue their lives.”