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Raging rock debris has slowed travel of the Volcanological Institute of Spain near Santander, and its vice-president says authorities could be frightened off
The remains of a volcano which last erupted three years ago and shut off the main road across Spain are still venting gas and killing livestock – and Spanish authorities are being alarmed by the size of its activity.
Carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and selenium – together known as the potent gases benzene and para cyanide – have been detected around Ciones do Abril, near the city of Santander in northern Spain, and levels are alarmingly high.
Deactivating machines is no easy task. Local media report that authorities have been inundated with calls from the local area, worried about the size of the eruption and how it is affecting their livelihoods.
Groups of people are worried that they will lose their sheep – called “the feed” in Spanish, and are now feeling the intense pressure around their firewood-burning stoves in the area.
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Emergency services are rushing to prevent the material from falling into the sea – and their relief is not just because it could contain toxic hydrogen sulphide.
Only two vehicles are allowed in at a time through the area where lava continues to flow, and there is now a 200-metre radius around the lava field.
The Volcanological Institute of Spain (VIE) in Asturias, where Ciones do Abril is located, has installed a cooling lake on its land, and evacuated some of its experts.
“We had to get the VIE here because we could not take it elsewhere,” Teresa Alfaro, the regional mayor of Ebro de Sucre, which is neighbouring Santander, told El Mundo newspaper.
The volcano last erupted in 2014 and it is estimated that out of a population of 100,000 in the area, 2,000 inhabitants live near the lava field, making them particularly vulnerable.
The volcano lies on the Guara range, one of Spain’s most important geological regions.