Volcanic ash cloud halts flights to and from Spanish island

26 September 2021, 17:24

Lava flows from the volcano on La Palma
Spain Volcano. Picture: PA

The volcano on La Palma erupted on September 19.

An ash cloud was preventing flights on and off the Spanish island of La Palma on Sunday as molten rock continued to be flung high into the air from an erupting volcano.

No flights arrived into or departed from the airport, despite emergency workers clearing the ash from the runway.

Islanders faced a mixed picture of good and bad news, with some evacuees allowed to return to their homes amid low seismic activity while authorities took stock of the damage caused. Around 430 buildings have so far been destroyed in the countryside.

The volcano on La Palma, which is part of the volcanic Canary Islands off northwest Africa and is home to about 85,000 people, erupted on September 19. The prompt evacuations of more than 6,000 people helped avoid casualties.

Lava flows from the volcano
Lava flows from the volcano (Daniel Roca/AP)

Life on the rest of La Palma, which is roughly 22 miles (35km) long and 12 miles (20km) wide at its broadest point, has been largely unaffected.

“We’re not in a state of total alarm,” the technical director of the volcano emergency response unit, Miguel Angel Morcuende, told a news conference.

“Life on the island is continuing, though those close to the eruption are facing difficulties.”

The volcano was still ejecting fiery molten rock and black smoke. Its roar could be heard miles away. Scientists said the eruption could last for up to three months.

The sound of the volcanic explosions could break glass in the surrounding area, Mr Morcuende said, urging people living within three miles (5km) to stay away from their windows.

Officials said the falling volcanic ash was not a threat to public health, but cleaning it up could be hazardous for people’s lungs and eyes. They urged people to wear a face mask, gloves and eye protection, as well as trousers and long-sleeved shirts, when removing ash.

Lava flows in an eruption on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain
The eruption is the first on La Palma since 1971 (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Some 25,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide were being emitted from the crater every day but did not pose a health threat, officials said.

Despite Spanish airport authority Aena tweeting that La Palma airport was operational again on Sunday, no aircraft were expected to land or take off.

Five airlines had already cancelled their day’s flights to La Palma because of the ash cloud. Volcanic ash is hazardous for aircraft engines.

Long queues formed at the island’s port to catch ferries off the island.

Authorities allowed 160 evacuees to go back home, and permitted some other evacuated residents to collect belongings from their houses, as lava flows remained slow.

Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was praying for all those affected by the volcano, dedicating a prayer to them at the end of his weekly noon blessing in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“I think especially of those who have been forced to leave their homes,” the pope said.

This month’s eruption is the first on La Palma since 1971.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Earthshot 2021

Revealed: List of winners awarded £1million by Duke of Cambridge for Earthshot Prize 2021

Millionaire Robert Durst is believed to have killed three people.

Millionaire murderer on ventilator with Covid days after sentencing

Former PM Gordon Brown wants to send over a billion vaccines to low-income countries

Gordon Brown calls for emergency vaccine airlift to poorer nations

The US has "no idea" how the Chinese managed to make such progress on hypersonic missiles

China fires hypersonic missile around globe before striking target

A British Airways plane takes off as the resumption of UK – US flights was confirmed

UK – US flights to resume from 8 November after 19-month ban

Officers arrested the suspect after 30 minutes

Norway bow and arrow attack 'appears to be act of terror' as five killed

Police in Florida arrested the man on Tuesday

Man arrested after toddler found gun and shot mother dead during work Zoom call

Police officers cordon off the scene in Kongsberg

Five people killed after man goes on bow and arrow rampage in Norwegian town

Billy Hood has been jailed for 25 years

London football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai over cannabis oil found in car

Blue Origin Launch.

Lift off! William Shatner soars into orbit on Blue Origin rocket

William Shatner take part in New Shepard spacecraft crew

Watch: William Shatner blasts off into space

Pen Farthing had staff and animals from his charity Nowzad evacuated from Afghanistan

Pen Farthing talks of 'total relief' as charity staff are flown into UK

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's latest comic book.

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's new comic book series

The northern flank of the volcano collapsed over the weekend, triggering new lava flows.

La Palma volcano partially collapses, spewing 'explosive bombs' of molten rock

Fuel stations and power plants in Lebanon have been forced to close.

Energy crisis: Warnings of blackouts in India and China and gas prices soar in Europe

Gerald Darmanin said "not one euro has been paid" of the promised £54m the UK promised to France to help prevent migrant crossings

'Not one euro paid' of money promised to France to tackle migrant crossings - minister