Some of you may be aware that there has been a volcanic eruption rumbling away near El Heirro in the Canaries since late July. At one point last month, people had to leave their homes and even now residents have bags packed and ready to leave at a moment’s notice. To give you an idea, a few days ago, there were 93 earthquakes. Over the weekend the activity has increased again. Another evacuation looks possible. Should we as visitors to the islands be concerned?
And therein lies a much more complicated answer than readers might like.
Ever since CD-Traveller picked up on this story we have been following it day by day for almost three months trying to decide when to tell you about it. Why the procrastination on our behalf? Because if we published a story saying the earthquakes were mounting in intensity it might have put you off travelling there. And, as has proved so often in the past months, that would be a dis-service to a group of islands that depend on tourism for its livelihood. It has not affected visitors to any of the islands other than El Hierro. And you might have missed an enjoyable holiday in one of the most popular of destinations. We could have been accused of scaremongering, perhaps with some right. But if we wrote nothing…
So we watched and waited. Daily reading was a fascinating website called Earthquake Report which gave a much more up-to-date and thoughtful view of the situation than was seen in well-known media and travel trade publications. We saw pictures of green slime on the surface which now has has become brown slime. We saw underwater pictures of an island being formed under the sea which may grow to become an above sea level one or something that may merge with the main landform. Fishermen have lost their ability to go to sea and the government has introduced support for those effectively put out of work. Over the weeked, La Restinga has had a car megaphone asking people to evacuate and spouts are pushing gases twenty foot into the air.
So should we tell you all this is happening? Would you have deferred or cancelled a holiday to the Canaries? Would it have encouraged you to go to see what was happening? In the end we decided to say nothing until or if matters worsened. Except in one story where we discussed travel insurance reminding you that it really is an essential for any traveller.
Are we treating this story in the right way? Only you can say.