Ash shuts airport as Canaries volcano enters ‘new explosive phase’

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Authorities closed La Palma’s airport on Saturday after a new vent opened at Cumbre Vieja volcano, spreading ash across the island.

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Flights to and from the Spanish island were canceled in weeks because of a volcanic eruption that began last Sunday, but it is the first time the airspace has been forced to close completely.

Experts said the volcano is “entering a new eruptive phase” when tons of lava tumbled down the slopes and blew high into the air over the weekend.


The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute, Involcan, added that the newly uncovered “emission vent” was to the west of the initial vent.

La Palma airport operator Aina said on Twitter that the site was “inactive due to accumulation of ash”. Other airports in the Canary Islands were still operating on Saturday but some airlines were suspending flights, it said.

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“Cleaning work has started, but the situation could change anytime,” Aina told worried commuters and residents.

Workers wearing PPE cleaned the ashes as passengers tried to change their tickets to board the next available flights.

However, the closure meant that those attempting to escape from the island were delayed, forcing some to attempt to book ferries to the nearby Canary Islands, from where they could fly. .

“We were supposed to leave today but the flight has been cancelled. There are no flights to Tenerife tomorrow, next is on Monday so we have to stay two more nights,” Laura, 46, from Madrid told Reuters.

She was on her way back to the Spanish capital via Tenerife for work.

“Volcano monitoring measurements carried out since the start of the eruption marked the highest ever recorded energy activity during Friday afternoon,” emergency services said.

On Friday, authorities evacuated parts of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and Tacande de Ariba, which had not been evacuated earlier.

The evacuated people were previously told that they would not be able to return to their homes to retrieve their belongings due to the “development of a volcanic emergency”.

Since it began erupting a week ago, the Cumbre Vieja volcano has ejected thousands of tons of lava, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people.

No death has been recorded so far.

La Palma, with a population of over 83,000, is one of the archipelagos that make up the Canary Islands.

Additional reporting by agencies


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