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German couple take refuge on boat as volcano threatens their Spanish home

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By Reuters
German couple take refuge on boat as volcano threatens their Spanish home
German couple take refuge on boat as volcano threatens their Spanish home   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Bart Biesemans

LA PALMA – Juergen Doelz and his girlfriend Jacqueline Rehm were in the process of selling their small sailboat on the Spanish island of La Palma when the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted, forcing them to flee their dream home and move to the boat.

Doelz, 66, and Rehm, 49, who are from Germany, had been trying sell the boat to save money after she lost her job at a car rental company due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sept. 19, when the volcano starting spewing red-hot lava just 4 km from their home in Todoque, the couple had just returned from a trip with a potential buyer. But the sale fell through as the yacht was “not sporty enough”, Doelz told Reuters on the boat, moored in Tazacorte port.

A few hours later, they were ordered to evacuate their rented house with its vineyard and terrace with a sea view and had to leave behind most of their belongings.

“Luckily we still had the boat … And since then we have been living on this boat. It’s small, but it’s okay,” Doelz, who is retired, said.

Streams of lava have laid waste to more than 600 hectares of land and destroyed about 1,600 buildings on La Palma. About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has about 83,000 inhabitants.

“We moved here (La Palma) two and a half years ago and after half a year we found our dream house … To lose that after two years, it’s hard,” Doelz said.

Although the lava has not yet engulfed their home they believe it’s just a matter of time after the flow destroyed their Swiss neighbours’ place and as the eruption is showing no signs of abating.

“We’ll stay on the boat as long as we don’t know what to do next. Shall we stay here or shall we maybe go to another island, like Tenerife? No idea, I don’t know. It’s written in the stars,” Rehm explained.