By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) – Spain will enhance the financial assistance being provided to help La Palma recover from the destruction wrought by the Cumbre Vieja volcano, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday.
The proposal aims to support the “economic relaunch” of the island by “expanding existing aid and [ensuring] that it arrives as soon as possible,” Pedro Sanchez told reporters after reaching Brussels for a European Union summit.
He said the plan will be approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers on Friday.
According to Sanchez, the housing aid limit will be doubled from €30,000 (about $34,000) to €60,000 (over $67,800), while €17.5 million ($19.7 million) will be given “to small and medium-sized companies and also for the relaunch of the tourism sector.”
Seafarers will not have to contribute toward social security as long as they are grounded and the deadline for repayment of debts will be extended until May 2, he added.
Direct aid to farmers and ranchers will also be hiked by €12 million ($13.5 million) to €30 million (about $34 million).
The announcement came as the Cumbre Vieja seems to be finally quietening down after three months of devastating volcanic activity.
The longest eruption in recorded history on La Palma, part of the Canary Islands archipelago, has destroyed some 3,000 buildings and around 1,200 hectares (over 2,950 acres) of land, as well as forcing thousands from their homes since Sept. 19.
Officials said earlier this week that earthquakes and flow of lava and gas emissions have stopped, while scientists remain cautiously optimistic that the improving indicators could herald the end of the eruption.