The Cumbre Vieja Volcano Covers The Sky With Ash, All Flights Cancelled

Published November 21st, 2021 - 10:29 GMT
Cumbre Vieja volcano
This photograph taken on October 27, 2021 shows the Cumbre Vieja volcano spewing lava, ash and smoke, in Los Llanos de Aridane on the Canary Island of La Palma. Since it began on September 19, the dramatic eruption has forced thousands out of their homes, while lava has destroyed hundreds of houses, businesses and huge swathes of banana plantations. (Photo by Victor SVENSSON / AFP)
Highlights
Spain's Prime Minister visited on Friday and Saturday to announce more aid

All flights to and from the Spanish island of La Palma have been cancelled due to ash from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, which has been erupting since September.

Twenty national flights were cancelled on Saturday, said a spokesman for the Spanish airport authority.

Air travel to the island in the Spanish-owned Canaries archipelago, off the Atlantic coast of North Africa, has been regularly affected since the volcano erupted on September 19 for the first time in 50 years.

No one has died in the eruption on the island of 85,000 people, but it caused serious damage and led to the evacuation of more than 7,000 people, with some buildings swallowed by lava flows.

More than 1,000 hectares of land and more than 2,600 buildings were destroyed, according to the European geospatial measurement system, Copernicus.

Provisional damage was estimated on Friday at nearly 900 million euros ($1 billion), according to the region.

During a visit on Friday and Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced new aid for the economy and infrastructure of the island, which depends in particular on tourism and banana cultivation.

The island of La Palma is experiencing its third eruption in a century, after those of the San Juan volcano in 1949 and the Teneguia in 1971.

Scientists have said the latest eruption could last up to three months.

This is not the first time all flights to and from the island have been cancelled, with the same happening earlier this month on November 3.

 

With flights cancelled, some tourists who went to the island on a sightseeing trip to witness the eruption had to wait in long lines for ferries to leave the island.

Madrid resident, Patricia Privado, 30, described the erupting volcano earlier this month as 'a spectacle of nature'.

'It is worth it,' she said of her trip. 'To hear it roar, to see how the lava falls. You have to experience it.'

Leon Pena, 65, said he came from the nearby island of Fuerteventura to see what he called 'something unique'.

Both said they knew flight cancellations were a possibility, but they didn't let that deter them from traveling to La Palma.

They also saw their trips as a way of supporting the local economy by spending money on the island, which has suffered greatly from the eruption.

Earlier this month, residents were questioning where financial aid promised by the Spanish government was.

In October, the government pledged 225 million euros in aid, and by the start of November, some 21 million euros of that has been disbursed.

Sanchez said at the time his administration would transfer a further 18.8 million euros for the agriculture and fishing industries and 5 million euros to tackle the 'social aspect' of the crisis.

The volcano's constant roar and numerous earthquakes have also kept locals on edge, and earlier in the month fears were again raised over possible toxic gas being released into the air as the second stream of lava reached the Atlantic ocean.

The stream of molten rock , which began erupting in mid-September, reached the water near the popular surf spot of Los Guirres beach on November 1.

A video uploaded by Spain's Geology and Mining Institute at the time showed rivers of molten rock sliding into the sea and large rocks rolling down a cliff, causing a cone of debris to emerge from the waterline.

Unlike the first time lava reached the ocean - just over a month ago - authorities said there was no need for residents to stay indoors.

'New confinements are not necessary because the populations are far away from the point of contact with the sea that occurred last night,' an emergency services spokesperson told Reuters earlier this month.

Few people live in the affected area, which is mostly banana plantations.

Early on in the eruption authorities had feared that the reaction between the superheated lava and seawater could unleash powerful explosions and set off toxic gas clouds.

During the last major eruption on the island, some 50 years ago, a man died after inhaling such gases.

La Palma's council said on Tuesday that seismic activity around the eruption site, as well as emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide, had been decreasing and the air quality remained good across most of the island.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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