Solidarity T-shirts raise funds for La Palma volcano victims

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The Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava and smoke while it continues to erupt, as seen from El Paso, on the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain, October 31, 2021. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

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LA PALMA, Spain, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Six weeks into the eruption on Spain's La Palma, several local organisations have begun selling T-shirts, tote bags and other merchandise to raise funds for those who have lost their homes or jobs to the volcano.

"The message is that La Palma will stay strong. This is just a small contribution to help people who've been affected," said Pedro Garcia, 47, who manages the Creaprint printing shop in Los Llanos de Aridane, the closest major town to the lava flow.

At his shop, a huge mechanised printer churns out the latest batch of black shirts emblazoned with a design of street signs listing some of the villages caught in the lava's path.

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"When this ends, for us it will be just the beginning. There's an enormous amount of uncertainty right now," he said.

More than 2,000 of the shirts, which retail for 10 euros ($11.58) apiece, have been sold with all the proceeds directed to victims.

One design shows a stylised map of La Palma surrounded by people linking hands to create a heart-shaped ring, while on another the words "ashes are carried away by the wind, memories remain" surround a black-and-white volcano image.

Carlos Cordero, 31, started selling the merchandise at his clothes shop in Los Llanos because he felt it was the quickest way to directly help islanders. He has sold more than 1,000 T-shirts and bags.

More than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed and many thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes since lava began pouring out of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Sept. 19.

Ashfall has intensified in recent days, coating the surrounding area with a sooty blanket of thick black dust.

Experts say it is impossible to predict how long the eruption will continue but Carmen Lopez, who heads the National Geographic Institute's geophysical monitoring programme, told reporters on Wednesday there were "positive signs" that activity was slowing.

($1 = 0.8638 euros)

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Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Richard Chang

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