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A 'Miracle House' Surrounded By A Volcano's Lava Is Still Standing

Lava from a volcanic eruption surrounds a house on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands on Thursday.
Emilio Morenatti
Lava from a volcanic eruption surrounds a house on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands on Thursday.

Smoldering lava is exploding into the sky, residents have been evacuated and the local airport has been closed — but one small home on the island of La Palma has been spared, bringing a small amount of relief as a volcanic eruption intensifies off the northwestern coast of Africa.

Social media users are calling the home — which was surrounded by lava — the "miracle house."

The Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting Sunday, forcing more than 6,000 people to evacuate before damaging hundreds of homes as lava raced across La Palma, part of the Spanish archipelago known as the Canary Islands.

Video posted to social media earlier this week show the earth scorched in all directions and other nearby structures smoldering, but somehow the small chalet remains unscathed.

The home is owned by Inge and Rainer Cocq, a retired Danish couple who have not been to the island since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a translated report in El Mundo.

"They came several times a year, until the virus arrived," said Ada Monnikendam, who built the home with her husband.

Monnikendam recognized the home while scrolling through images of the eruption on social media. She has stayed in touch with the homeowners and has spoken with them through the tragedy.

"Here they would fill up with energy and then go back to Denmark. She was with her plants; he was entertaining himself building walls with stones," Monnikendam said. "They have great friends in El Paraíso who have lost absolutely everything."

The home's owners picked La Palma for the view

The Cocqs chose La Palma for its spectacular volcanic landscape, according to El Mundo. The couple even considered retiring in Hawaii, also surrounded by volcanoes, but they chose the Canary Islands to be closer to Denmark.

"Even though we can't go now, we're relieved that it's still standing," Monnikendam said the couple told her.

While the Cocqs' home has been spared, others on La Palma have not. More than 350 homes across the island have been destroyed.

In addition, the effects of the eruption are expected to worsen as the flow of lava slows.

A giant river of lava 2,000 feet wide slowed to 13 feet per hour after reaching a plain on Wednesday, officials said. On Monday, a day after the eruption, it was moving at 2,300 feet per hour, according to The Associated Press.

Walls of lava have grown 50 feet high in some areas, and the cooled rock has swallowed at least 410 acres of land.

The eruption is the first in 50 years on La Palma, which has a population of about 85,000.

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Dave Mistich is the Charleston Reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. A native of Washington, West Virginia, Dave can be heard throughout week on West Virginia Public Radio, including during West Virginia Morning and Inside Appalachia. He also anchors local newscasts during Weekend Edition on Saturday mornings and covers the House of Delegates for The Legislature Today.
Dave Mistich
Originally from Washington, W.Va., Dave Mistich joined NPR part-time as an associate producer for the Newcast unit in September 2019 — after nearly a decade of filing stories for the network as a Member station reporter at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. In July 2021, he also joined the Newsdesk as a part-time reporter.