Access to Fajã das Velas prohibited and residents moved
The inhabitants of the fajã das Velas, in São Jorge, will be removed, and going to those areas will be prohibited due to the seismovolcanic crisis, revealed today the President of the Government of the Azores, José Manuel Bolieiro.
“A situation of alert was declared for a very specific reference to ensure that there are restrictions on access to the fajãs of the municipality of Velas on the island of São Jorge, as well as the evacuation of their residents”, he told journalists, in Velas, in the balance of the visit. The island.
The regional leader (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM) stated that the decision is made based on the alert statement and that it will be in effect from 00:00 on Saturday until 23:59 on Monday.
The ban and evacuation of the fajãs is justified by the levels of seismicity and by the “danger expected for Saturday and Sunday morning” due to weather conditions, explained José Manuel Bolieiro.
The measure, which until now was a recommendation, will be mandatory: “The alert declaration has, in the terms of the civil protection bases law, as well as the regional legislative decree that regulates civil protection in the Azores, this effectiveness that is decisive and therefore mandatory. Anyone who does not comply is in disobedience”, said the head of the Azorean executive.
The island of São Jorge has more than seven dozen fajãs – small plains by the sea that originated from landslides or lava – which are, since 2016, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Culture and places most sought after by tourists.
The president of the Azores Seismovolcanic Information and Surveillance Center (CIVISA), Rui Marques, warned today that the rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, combined with the seismic crisis, could cause landslides in São Jorge.
Seismic activity on the island of São Jorge “continues above normal” and in the last few hours “11 earthquakes were felt”, the Azores Seismovolcanic Information and Surveillance Center (CIVISA) reported today.
On Wednesday, CIVISA raised the volcanic alert level on São Jorge Island to V4 (out of a total of five), which means “real possibility of eruption”.
In view of this scenario, the Azorean executive recommended that the population with greater vulnerabilities in the main affected area on the island of São Jorge should leave their homes.
Also on Wednesday, the Civil Protection of the Azores activated the Regional Emergency Plan due to the high seismic activity that has been registered in São Jorge since Saturday.
The municipal emergency plans of the two municipalities on the island, Calheta and Velas, have also been activated.
The island is administratively organized into two municipalities, Velas and Calheta, where 4,936 and 3,437 people live, respectively, according to provisional data from the 2021 population census.