Despite its duration (85 days) and the stunning images of molten lava flows, the Cumbre Vieja eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma has not officially claimed any lives.
In fact, on November 13, a body had been discovered in the Canary Island’s security area, but authorities were awaiting the results of the autopsy to decide the causes of death.
A 72-year-old man, the only human casualty
On Monday, the judiciary finally found “a fatal victim” of the “eruption of the La Palma volcano between September 18 and December 13, 2021”.
“The autopsy confirmed that the 72-year-old man, found dead in the garage of his home, died after inhaling toxic gases, confirming that the tragedy did in fact have a human victim,” a Canary Islands court concluded in a press release issued on Monday.
This three-month eruption had drained the 83,000 inhabitants of the very touristic island of La Palma: more than 7,000 people were evacuated, almost 3,000 buildings were destroyed and banana plantations were wiped off the map.
The lava had covered 1,250 hectares on the island and even enlarged it by solidifying in contact with seawater, creating two peninsulas. This eruption was the longest on La Palma and the first in 50 years, after those of San Juan in 1949 and Teneguia in 1971.