CUMBRE VIEJA EXCLUSION ZONE, Canary Islands (AP) — A child’s swing. An outdoor fountain. Under the pressure of escape, a tray of glasses is left behind. As a cloud of dark ash from La Palma’s volcano blows, all will vanish.

The exclusion zone is a place where lava and black snow can cause destruction. In the last hours of the eruption, molten rocks engulfs entire houses. A hammock-covered living room is left empty. Homes and fields below the Cumbre Vieja volcano will be destroyed in slow-motion regardless of whether it is from ash or lava.

The house is located on La Palma Island in the Canary Islands.
Source: Associated Press

Authorities have made it illegal to enter the area between Cumbre Vieja volcano (September 19) and the Atlantic Ocean (8,200 ha). Only police, soldiers, and scientists are allowed to move freely in the exclusion zone, which cuts La Palma’s western shore in two.

A house almost completely covered by ash.
The ash covers almost the entire house.
Through the Associated Press

It was once a lush, green area that seemed to be an idyllic paradise for residents as well as visitors. Spaniards and other Europeans spent vacations or retired here to be near the sea, while locals harvested banana trees in the semitropical warmth of Spain’s Canary Islands.

Scientists estimate the volcano also has ejected over 10,000 million cubic meters of ash.
Researchers estimate that the volcano has also ejected more than 10,000,000,000 cubic meters of ash.
Source: Associated Press

Now, evacuated residents line up in cars and trucks on the zone’s edge, awaiting permission to make escorted trips home to rescue their dearest possessions, or at least see their endangered properties.

A crockery set left behind by residents who were evacuated from their village.
Residents who had to evacuate their village left behind crockery.
Source: Associated Press

The volcano brought together human time and geoological time. What once seemed a given — the land beneath people’s feet — becomes as fluid and unpredictable as the lives the eruption threw into tumult. You can feel the anxiety of those who are losing their way in life as the lava creeps and ash builds up.

Lava from a volcano advances towards a house.
The lava of a volcano moves toward a house.
Source: Associated Press

Silence would reign in the exclusion zone if it weren’t for what residents have named “the beast.”

The volcano’s constant roar makes conversation almost impossible, nearly drowns out both the barking of abandoned dogs and the murmur of a flock of pigeons circling the sky in search of a coop that no longer exists.

Another sound: Families weeping while they wait for police to arrive and watch their homes fall apart.

In their path, more than 1,000 homes were damaged by the lava flows.

A small shrub emerges from the ash spewed out by the volcano.
The ash from the volcano has created a tiny shrub.
Source: Associated Press

It is ejected thousands of metres into the air, with the thickest and most heavy particles giving way to gravity. The ash builds up into large banks, which slowly cover the doors and windows. They can also cause roofs to sag. Some particles sound almost like hail, especially when they smash into car roofs or banana tree leaves.

Whole houses right up to chimneys and whole forests right up up to canopy are all affected by the ash.

Ash covers the graves at the La Palma cemetery.
At the La Palma cemetery, ash covers the graves.
Source: Associated Press

“I can’t even recognize my home,” Cristina Vera said while weeping. “I can’t recognize anything around it. I don’t recognize my neighbors’ homes, not even the mountain. It has all changed so much that I don’t know where I am.”

The relocation of over 7,000 persons has helped to prevent the death of many people. However, cemeteries allow the occupants to go through another burial by ash. It will remove any marker that marks the location where they are buried.

At cemeteries, the occupants go through a second burial by ash, a burial that will wipe away the markers that note the place where they were put to rest.
The cemeteries offer a second burial in ash to the occupants. This burial will erase any markers that mark the spot where they are buried.
Source: Associated Press

There are still moments when the sublime can emerge in the chaos of the end times. In the face of new ebony, colors which remain shine more.

When a small shrub is shaken, it becomes a glowing green globe.

Ash covers chairs on the terrace of a house.
Ash is used to cover chairs that are placed on a patio of a home.
Source: Associated Press


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