25 Sep 2021, 18:05

Eruptions shut airport on Canaries volcanic island

   MADRID, Sept 25, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Clouds of thick black ash from volcanic 
eruptions in Spain's Canaries archipelago forced the closure of the airport 
on La Palma island on Saturday, authorities said.

   The Cumbre Vieja volcano came to life a week ago and has intermittently 
spewed out lava and ash leading to the cancellation of all seven flights on 

   "The airport is closed because of the accumulation of ash," said state-
owned airport operator Aena.

   "Clean-up operations have begun but the situation can change at any 
moment," it added.

   More evacuations were also ordered Friday at the town of El Paso as large 
explosions and new openings were reported at the volcano.

   "Given the increased risk for the population due to the current eruptive 
episode", the regional government said, an obligatory evacuation order was 
issued for several districts.

   That pushed the number of people forced to leave their homes so far to 
more than 6,200, including 400 tourists. 

   The flight cancellations began on Friday.

   "It is not yet possible to say when we can resume flights," Spanish 
carrier Binter said on Twitter. 

   According to the European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, 
lava has so far destroyed 420 buildings and covered more than 190 hectares 
(470 acres) of land. 

   Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced La Palma would be declared "a zone 
affected by a catastrophe" which opens financial aid to residents. 

   The speed of the lava flowing from the crater has steadily slowed in 
recent days, and experts hope it will not reach the coast. 

   If the molten lava pours into the sea, it can generate clouds of toxic gas 
into the air, also affecting the marine environment. 

   No casualties have been reported so far but the damage to land and 
property has been enormous, with the Canaries regional head Angel Victor 
Torres estimating the cost at well over 400 million euros ($470 million). 

   The eruption on La Palma, home to 85,000 people, was the first in 50 

   The last eruption on the island came in 1971 when another part of the same 
volcanic range -- a vent known as Teneguia -- erupted on the southern side of 
the island.

   Two decades earlier, the Nambroque vent erupted in 1949. 




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