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Photographer Shocked by Volcanic Eruption Close to Home: ‘We Cannot Fight Against Nature, Only Adapt To It.’

Published: April 2, 2022
Night of September 19, the first day unleashing its strength and power of destruction, two months later it is still there.
Night of September 19, the first day unleashing its strength and power of destruction, two months later it is still there. (Image: Saúl Santos Díaz)

Travel and nature photographer Saúl Santos Díaz realized his dream of capturing a live volcano on camera when he achieved amazing visuals filming a local eruption last year. Diaz captured the eerie yet stunning images of the Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain. The volcano erupted on September 19, spewing out molten lava, smoke, and ash, stopping abruptly on December 13. On Christmas Day, it was officially announced that the volcano’s eruption is over, allowing the residents of the island to exhale a sigh of relief.

The Volcano. La Palma, Canary Islands. (Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)

The Canary Islands regional security chief Julio Perez told the news, “What I want to say today can be said with just four words: The eruption is over.”

According to CBC, the lava destroyed 3,000 properties and covered an area of 1,219 hectares (3,012 acres) in its wake. Thousands of structures were destroyed, banana plantations that account for over half of the island’s economy were engulfed, irrigation systems were wrecked, highways were shut off, and many people were forced to flee during the eruption. Despite the extensive destruction, there was no death toll or injuries resulting from the eruption.

(Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)

“This happened throughout history many times and would happen again, we built on volcanoes, now sadly the volcano built on us,” Diaz told the Epoch Times. “Now we have to see it as an opportunity, something new, adapt and integrate with it, we cannot fight against nature, only adapt to it.”

Watch out for this stunning clip:

In September, his photographs showed the volcano erupting into life. By November, as if taunting the stunned and terrified residents, the Cumbre Vieja became ferocious, hurling lava hundreds of feet into the air. From La Palma’s highest mountain, he captured the terrible flame penetrating the cloud layer. In December, the volcano began to subside, just as experts had predicted.

(Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)

This 41-year-old photographer, who is from the local island of Fuencaliente, had an internal struggle since his wish was to document a live volcano eruption just like his father did before him, but the volcano was too close to his home. He described the risky three-month picture shoot as a combination of “very hard emotional shock.”

Diaz told the Epoch Times in Spanish, “On the one hand, I fulfilled a dream and saw something spectacular and indescribable, it broke the pain of seeing how my neighbors’ houses were taken away.” He also added, “On the other hand, I knew that I had to photograph everything, the good and the bad, document every moment, for three months, I have been working day by day.” Even though the eruption has subsided, the locals are not yet ready to breathe easy.

On the bright side, the islanders no longer need umbrellas or goggles to protect themselves from the ash as they did during the eruption. While a big clean-up effort has gotten underway, there is still a lot of work to be done. As the residential areas were concealed with ashes and rocks; the locals, as well as the military, police, and environmental personnel can be seen uncovering and cleaning the affected areas. 

Details of a huge rock sailing on a giant lava river. (Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)

The majority of the 7,000 individuals who were evacuated have returned home, but many of the properties that remain are unusable due to ash damage. The government has allocated over 400 million euros (about US$453 million) towards rehabilitation.

The power of nature has stunned all those who witnessed it, and Diaz’s stunning, yet nightmarish images will convey a tale for future generations.

Eerily gorgeous photographs by Saúl Santos Díaz from La Palma:

(Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)
(Image:  Saúl Santos Díaz)
(Courtesy of Saúl Santos Díaz)