La Palma volcano: Family’s anguish as lava destroys ‘miracle house’

La Palma volcano: Family's anguish as lava destroys 'miracle house' thumbnail

image source, Alfonso Escalero

image caption, The residence had been dubbed a “miracle house” for escaping the lava

A house that miraculously survived an erupting volcano on La Palma in the Spanish Canary Islands for days has now been consumed by lava.

The retired Danish couple who owned the house, Inge Bergedorf and Ranier Cocq, told Spanish media on Tuesday it had been swallowed by the flow.

“Everything is destroyed,” Mr Cocq told the El Mundo newspaper.

The property became known as the “miracle house” after escaping lava flowing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano.

The lava has flattened hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of more than 6,000 people since it started pouring from the volcano on 19 September.

On Tuesday night the lava reached the Atlantic Ocean, on the west coast of the island, raising fears of explosions and the release of toxic gases.

media caption, Clouds of steam can be seen as scorching lava enters the Atlantic Ocean

Mr Cocq and his wife were not on the island when their house succumbed to the volcano. They live on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark and have not visited La Palma since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“We have lost everything on our beloved island,” Mr Cocq told El Mundo. “It is very sad. Inge and I are devastated.”

The modest house was built on a 3,000 sq m (32,200 sq ft) plot of land the couple bought decades ago.

Had the volcano not erupted, the retired couple said they would have been packing their bags for a getaway in La Palma this autumn. “We used to go in October and November to collect the grapes that we have in our vineyards. But now there is nothing left,” Mr Cocq said.

One of his daughters, Yenny Cocq, told the BBC the lot her father loved will probably become a wasteland now.

“My mother still looks at old images she finds online and says there is still hope. My father insists [we] rebuild in exactly that location. Although I tell them there won’t be a way to get there.”

image source, Getty Images

image caption, The Cumbre Vieja volcano has been erupting since 19 September

A striking image of their home on a small sliver of land, untouched by lava, was seen as a symbol of hope when it spread across the internet last week.

The image was taken with a drone by photographer Alfonso Escalero. In an Instagram post, he wrote: “We will look for another sign that does not make us lose hope in these difficult days.”

Many families on the island have lost their homes. On Wednesday the EU’s Copernicus service estimated that the lava had destroyed 656 homes on its way to the ocean.

The Spanish authorities have declared La Palma a disaster zone, pledging financial support for all those affected by the volcanic activity.

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