Spain’s La Palma’s airport reopens, but all flights remain cancelled as volcano erupts

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The airport on the Spanish island of La Palma reopened on Sunday, though all flights were canceled as a week after the volcano erupted, lava from the volcano and a cloud of ash engulfed the surrounding area.

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People used umbrellas to protect themselves from the falling volcanic cash, while the airport departure hall was quiet and the boards only showed canceled flights.

Engineer Waldo Nasco said, “They laugh at us because of the umbrella, but if we don’t use it we are covered in ashes.”

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Experts said there were two active lava flows on Sunday, a rapid northward and a slow southward movement.

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“We have a northward flow that is moving more rapidly… This lava comes from the more interior areas of the crater and its temperature,” Miguel ngel Morcuende, director of the Volcano Response Committee Pevolca, told a news conference on Sunday. is about 1,250 degrees.” .

Reuters drone footage shows a fast river of red-hot lava flowing down the crater’s slopes, passing near homes, and slow-moving, swaths of land and buildings surrounded by black masses of older lava. Is.

Lava destroyed the village church in Todok on Sunday afternoon, with its bell tower breaking under the flow. It narrowly survived earlier in the week when the lava stopped a short distance from the church.

Morcuende said those evacuated from Tacande de Ariba, Tacande de Abajo and Tajuya would be able to return to their homes.

Spain’s airport operator Aina said the airport had reopened after teams cleared ashes from the runway. But Canary Island airline Binter said it would not allow flights today due to conditions.

“The ash clouds resulting from the volcanic eruption make it necessary to maintain the temporary halt of flights to La Palma … Flights scheduled for today have been cancelled,” it said in a statement. safe place.

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‘Closeness and solidarity’

During his weekly blessing in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis sent a message of “closeness and solidarity” to those affected by the blast.

In La Palma, churches hold special masses for those affected.

“There are so many people who are having a really bad time so we’re praying for them,” Magali Zarate, 49, from Mexico told the mass at the church of the Colegio Sagrada Familia de Nazaret.

Zarate was on holiday in La Palma and was unable to return home because her flight was cancelled.

Experts said the Cambre Vieja volcano, which began erupting last Sunday, entered a new eruptive phase on Friday. The National Geographic and Mining Institute said on Saturday that its drones showed that the volcano’s cone had collapsed.

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The eruption has destroyed hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people since it began on 19 September.

“La Palma airport has reopened. After progress in ash cleanup work, it can now be reopened,” tweeted Anna.

Passengers faced canceled flights on Saturday, and many joined long queues at the port hoping to receive a boat from the island.

On Sunday, ferry operator Fred Olson Express said it would add an additional round trip between La Palma and Tenerife from Monday to Wednesday.

“The Fred Olson Express will increase connections to meet the demand for transportation arising from the emergency situation caused by the volcanic eruption,” it said in a statement.

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

No casualties or serious injuries have been reported since the volcano erupted, but about 15% of the island’s economically important banana crop could be at risk, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

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