Of “Monster caps” to admire a “Bewitching spectacle”, despite the Covid-19 : the eruption of Piton de la Fournaise on Reunion Island caused such enthusiasm that the prefect decided to impose additional restrictions by prohibiting bivouacs on site.
Since March 5 The meeting is under curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. due to the health crisis. This restriction prohibits any movement including to get to the volcano at night, “Where the spectacle is the most beautiful” sighs Marc Gence, who calls himself “Enlightened amateur photographer of the Furnace” and gladly show “The pictures taken during the night from Saturday to Sunday”.
He found a way to get around this ban. “I arrived on Saturday, I walked to approach the flow, I pitched my tent and I spent the night and the one after there, I did not move and the show was magical”, he says.
Several people have done the same. “The prefect didn’t like it, that’s why he banned bivouacs and camping”, assures Jean-François Lauret, forty-something who would not miss an eruption ” for nothing in the world “ and spent the night from Monday to Tuesday at the volcano.
Located in an uninhabited area in the south-east of Reunion, the Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting about twenty times over the past ten years. Its effusive eruptions cause a very spectacular lava flow.
“In order to avoid groupings conducive to the spread of the virus and the appearance of chains of contamination […] the practice of camping and bivouacs is prohibited from April 13 ” across the island, Prefect Jacques Billant said in a statement Monday night.
The police have “Record of violations of the regulations in force, with gatherings organized on the sidelines of the installation of tents”, according to the prefect.
“The little trick was however not very bad and then frankly there is little risk of spreading the virus by bivouacking at the volcano”, comments Jean-François Lauret.
The ban takes effect Tuesday evening and, according to a source close to the prefecture, the police have received instructions to increase the checks.
Marc Gence and Jean-François Lauret decided to pack up tents and luggage on Tuesday morning. “Another ban, as if we did not have enough, we are even deprived of the pleasure of admiring our volcano”grumbles Mr. Gence.
“I left, but I have friends who stayed there”, launches Mr. Lauret. “I understand their decision. The night view of the eruption is spellbinding […] And then the gendarmes will have to walk a lot if they want to find them ”he said mischievously.
In addition to these admirers ready to defy the curfew, since Saturday, thousands of people have made the trip to the volcano in the authorized time slot.
Like Pascal Lauret, his wife and their two children, who left La Possession (west) on Saturday afternoon to go towards the eruption. “A lot of people went there. Suddenly we found ourselves in monster traffic jams, as usual ”, comments the father.
The gendarmes fined dozens of badly parked vehicles on the roadside. “I had a fine and in addition I saw nothing”, storm Marie-José Legros, coming Sunday morning from Saint-Denis.
Until Sunday evening, to admire the eruption you had to walk an hour and a half to reach a point of view or trudge for several hours in the slag.
But since Monday, it has been visible from the road. “We saw a small red dot but it’s better than nothing”, consoles Michel Morel from Saint-Pierre (south).
He plans to come back with friends next weekend “Hoping that the eruption continues”. “Even though there are a lot of us, there are so many places that we are not stuck on top of each other,” he says. The barrier gestures are made naturally, it is clearly a space of freedom. “