Disasters & Accidents

Air quality dips on La Palma, airport remains closed

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Oct 8 (EFE).- La Palma airport remained closed Friday due to ash accumulation caused by a volcanic eruption, although the remaining airports on the Canary Islands were operative.

The airport in La Palma closed on Thursday after changing winds pushed a thick cloud of sulfur and ash east.

Air Navigation (AENA) said a cleanup operation was underway to remove debris that had accumulated on the runway.

The Department of National Security (DSN) has recorded an increase in seismic activity in the last 24 hours, with a spike in the number of earthquakes of a higher magnitude.

The National Geographic Institute (IGN) said it had recorded 40 tremors on the island on Friday morning, one at a magnitude of 3.8 on the Richter scale and 36 kilometers underground in the municipality of Fuencaliente. So far 33 earthquakes have shaken Fuencaliente and seven were registered in Villa de Mazo.

Experts from the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute (Involcan) are due to meet residents of affected areas to share evacuation protocols but, above all, to reassure them that there is no reason to believe a new vent will emerge.

All tremors have been recorded in intermediate and deep foci, meaning “currently there is no parameter that indicates the opening of a new vent at a distance from the currently active cone,” the DSN said.

Scientists and experts continue to monitor lava flow from the Cumbre Vieja volcano which started erupting on 19 September. On Thursday, a new channel of molten rock emerged from the main stream and is flowing into a delta between the beaches of Los Guirres and El Charcón which was formed during a 1949 eruption.

The new river of lava has scorched banana crops, destroyed deposits and some buildings.

Air quality has also deteriorated and weak winds are proving ineffective at clearing ash and sulfur clouds in the region.

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