Looking Back At The Cabo Verde Volcanic Eruption Of 2014

By Ann Brown AFKI Original Published: December 31, 2014, 3:20 pm
Children of Cha flee their homes following the eruption Photo: Marcos Rocha de Pina
(Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)
(Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)

On Nov. 23, 2014, Pico do Fogo volcano erupted on the island of Fogo in Cape Verde. Thankfully there was no loss life but two towns of the Cha das Calderias region were evacuated, and the island’s thriving vineyards were destroyed along with a national park.

A month later the volcano remains active. On Dec. 30, seismologists reported a slight increase in intensity of volcanic activity.

As the volcano is still active and unpredictable, people have been told to stay away from the recent crater. However, some of the population of Cha das are still traveling daily to to harvest beans and other agricultural products as well as to take care of animals that remain in area.

The slight increase in intensity is normal in this eruption phase, and there is no reason to be alarmed, said Nadir Cardoso of the University of Cape Verde in a report in Fogo News. “The drained lava that is heading to the north of the islet Losna village is still active and moving forward on the 1995 eruption of lava, saving farmland.”

The eruption left hundreds homeless, with their livelihood ruined. Donations have been pouring in. Fundraisers have been held in the U.S. by Cabo Veredean communities in the New England area. In Cabo Verde, recently there was a concert featuring locals in an effort to raise money and clothing for the displaced victims of the volcano.

One charity collecting items and funds for the families of Fogo is Cape Verde For Life, located in three states– Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Here are some photos of the destruction from Africa’s 2014 volcanic eruption.

Photo Courtesy Green Studio
Photo Courtesy GreenStudio

The volcanic eruption almost immediately destroyed the region of Cha das Caldeiras, which had about 1,200 inhabitants.

Soon after the eruption, Cabo Verdean Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves held a press conference, saying, “In the last few hours, there was an increase in volcanic activity and the lava is flowing towards Portela and this community may be completely engulfed by lava. The potential is for the total destruction of Cha das Caldeiras, one of the most fertile regions of Cape Verde.”

And that is exactly what happened. It was in this area of Cha that Cabo Verde had built a thriving wine industry.

“In Cape Verde , viticulture is confined on the island of Fogo, in the caldera Chã das Caldeiras at the foot of Pico do Fogo…Exported in the beginning to Brazil and Guinea-Bissau, Portuguese-speaking , the wines have earned a label Chã, by Associação dos Agricultores of Chã, with the assistance of the European Union and are marketed under the name of Vinho do Fogo,” according to a blog, Earth of Fire.

Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina
The eruption of Pico do Fogo (Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)

The eruption of Pico do Fogo came as a surprise to most and was the biggest eruption in decades. It destroyed two villages.

“Pico do Fogo, which stands almost 2,900 metres (9,500 feet), quieted down for four days after the first eruption,” reported The Daily Mail, but then blew again.

“There’s a whole local economy and a whole way of life that the volcano has claimed in the space of just 22 days,” local journalist Arlinda Neves said after the villages of Portela and Bangeira, were “struck off the map.”

“It’s more than a century-and-a-half of history that has literally been wiped out,” she said. Some of buildings destroyed dated back to the 1860s.

 

The people of Cha fleeing their homes following the eruption (Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)
The people of Cha fleeing their homes following the eruption
(Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)

The nearly “1,200 people who had to evacuate likely do not have a home to which to return. Even if their home survived, much of the infrastructure for these communities has been decimated as well,” Wired reported.

A woman in Fogo overwhelmed at the eruption destruction. (Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)
A woman in Fogo overwhelmed at the eruption destruction. (Photo courtesy of Marcos Rocha de Pina)

The lava from Pico do Fogo moved slowly enough for the people to evacuate. “Fogo erupts mostly a slow-moving form of basalt lava that humans and animals can easily evade,” according to reports Science 20. “However, its advance is inexorable and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it…Unlike in 1995, when the evacuated population were able to return to their homes, this time there is nothing to return to.”

Village under lava (Photo courtesy of GreenStudio)
Village under lava (Photo courtesy of GreenStudio)

It has been almost 20 years since the volcano last erupted, but many news outlets seemed to ignore the event. “Media coverage of this natural disaster has so far been remarkably small despite the fact that it is Fogo’s largest volcanic eruption in decades, causing more damage to nearby settlements, and in a shorter time, than the 1995 eruption,” according to Volcano Discovery.

After destruction of the village of Portela including the local wine cooperative, catholic church and tourist infrastructure earlier this month, lava flows hit the town of Bagaiera and covered it completely, the report continued.

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