France’s Reunion island is regularly treated to spectacular eruptions of the Piton de la Fournaise volcano — but with a COVID-19 curfew in place, some residents resorted to drastic measures this week to enjoy the stunning night-time views.
The Indian Ocean island has been under a 6pm to 5am curfew since March 5 to tame COVID-19 infections.
That presented a problem for amateur photographer Marc Gence when the first eruption of the year began on Friday last week — since, he said, nighttime is when “the spectacle is at its most beautiful.”
With nighttime travel banned, Gence saw only one solution: pitching a tent not far from the volcano and making it his home for a couple of nights.
“I didn’t travel, and the views were magical,” he said, happily showing off snaps of the eruption he took on Saturday night.
Several other spectators have also been camping out to view the volcano, whose name means “Furnace Peak” in English.
However, island authorities have moved to stop people from taking up temporary residence in the area to beat the curfew.
Reunion Prefect Jacques Billant announced that all camping would be banned across the whole island from Tuesday night, “to avoid groups spreading the virus.”
“This little ruse wasn’t ill-intended, and frankly, there is little risk of spreading the virus by bivouacking at a volcano,” said Jean-Francois Lauret, another camper.
He and Gence decided to pack up their tents on Tuesday morning.
“As if there weren’t enough things banned already,” Gence said. “They’re even taking away the pleasure of admiring our volcano.”
A police source said security forces were preparing to tighten checks on illicit camping.
Nonetheless, Lauret said some of his friends had decided to stay on.
“I can understand why. The view of the eruption at night is captivating,” he said.
“Plus, the police would have to walk quite a long way if they wanted to find them,” he added.
The Piton de la Fournaise, situated in an uninhabited area in the southeast of the island, has erupted about 20 times over the past decade and its violent bursts of activity often prompt stunning lava flows.
While only the most zealous have been camping out, thousands of residents have headed to the area by vehicle and left before the curfew each night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eruption.
“A huge number of people have gone up there, there’ve been monster traffic jams,” said Pascal Lauret, who drove to the volcano with his wife and their two children.
Dozens of drivers have been fined for parking badly along the route.
“I got a fine, and I didn’t even see anything,” Marie-Jose Legros said.
Up until Sunday night, spectators had to walk for an hour-and-a-half to reach a decent viewing point, but since Monday the eruption has been visible from the road.
“We saw a little red dot, which is better than nothing,” Michel Morel said.
He was planning to return at the weekend.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last
US actress Scarlett Johansson on Saturday urged the film industry to “step back” from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as criticism of the opaque film industry group, which controls the Golden Globe awards, continues to mount for sexism and racism. The Avengers star said in a statement that the “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.” Johansson said that “as an actor promoting a film,” participating in the organization’s news conferences and award shows “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on