The Guardian: The airport on the Spanish island of La Palma was closed on Saturday because of an ash cloud spewing out of a volcano that has been erupting for a week, and scientists said another volcanic vent had opened up, exposing islanders to possible new dangers.
The eruption began on 19 September and has increased in intensity in recent days, prompting the evacuation of three further villages on La Palma. Almost 7,000 people have had to abandon their homes.
The recent volcanic eruption is the first since 1971 on La Palma, which has a population of 85,000 and part of the Canary Islands archipelago off north-west Africa.
La Palma Airport operator Aena said the airport was “inoperative” because of the accumulation of ash. Other airports in the Canary Islands were still operating on Saturday, it adaded, but some airlines were suspending flights.
Emergency crews pulled back from the volcano on Friday as explosions sent molten rock and ash over a wide area. The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said another vent opened early on Saturday.
Rivers of lava have been sliding down the mountainside toward the south-western coast of the island, destroying everything in their path, including hundreds of homes. However, the speed of the flow had slowed considerably and the lava was now barely moving forward, with about 2 km left to reach the sea, said Miguel Ángel Morcuende, head of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan.
“I don’t dare to tell you when it’s going to get there, nor do I dare to make a forecast,” Morcuende told reporters.
A more immediate concern for residents of La Palma is the huge ash cloud rising from the volcano and being carried by the wind to other parts of the island. Volcanic ash can damage people’s airways, lungs and eyes. The local government has urged residents in affected areas to avoid going outside and only do so wearing masks and goggles.
“You will see the accidents that are befalling us in our world, those that are on the cars, and the games, and that are on the water, and the flame and the fire, and the blood, and the volcanoes, and all these things. They are perishing. Why? The Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth.” Letters and Manuscripts, Volume 17, Manuscripts 229, 1902.