La Palma Airport Shut Down Amid Volcanic Eruption
In Spain’s Canary Islands, La Palma Airport (SPC) was shut down on Saturday because of an ash cloud…
In Spain’s Canary Islands, La Palma Airport (SPC) was shut down on Saturday because of an ash cloud spewing from an erupting volcano. The Cumbre Vieja volcano, which began erupting a week ago, has intensified recently with another volcanic vent opening up.
The volcanic eruption on La Palma, which has a population of 85,000, is the first since 1971 and has caused the evacuation of around 7,000 people. Spanish airport operator Aena decided to close the airport following an accumulation of ash on the airport’s runway.
Some flights to the Canary Islands have been suspended
In a statement on Aena’s website and postings on social media, the airport operator says that other airports in the Canary Islands are still open. However, some airlines are suspending flights to La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife Norte, and Tenerife Sur due to the danger posed by volcanic ash.
????El #aeropuerto de #LaPalma se encuentra inoperativo por acumulación de ceniza. Se han iniciado las tareas de limpieza, pero la situación puede cambiar en cualquier momento.
????La prioridad es garantizar la seguridad de las operaciones. #SafetyFirst pic.twitter.com/tOhpIpBUma
— Aena (@aena) September 25, 2021
Airport workers were kept busy trying to sweep volcanic ash off the runway as people came to the airport only to find that their flights had been canceled. With the airport closed, La Palma’s main port in Santa Cruz de la Palma was busy with people trying to escape to other islands. When speaking to a reporter for Reuters, 47-year-old Carlos Garcia said:
“I am going to Barcelona. But because we can’t fly, we are taking the ferry to Los Cristianos (on Tenerife island), and from there, we will go to the airport and fly to Barcelona.”
While the airport does get some charter flights from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom, it is mainly served by inter-island flights operated by Binter Canarias and CanaryFly.
The lava is two kilometers from the sea
On Friday, emergency crews were forced to move back as the erupting volcano spewed molten rock and ash over a large area. In the southwest of the island, rivers of molten lava have destroyed hundreds of homes with about two kilometers left before the lava reaches the sea.
Once the lava reaches the sea, a thermal shock will be caused by the vast temperature difference between the molten lava and the seawater. When the two combine, it will create acid clouds and gases that can be fatal to humans and animals. When being interviewed by Spanish newspaper Dario AS professor of Geology at the University of Las Palmas, José Mangas said:
“It’s like mixing boiling oil with water.”
Of more immediate concern for the residents of La Palma is the vast ash cloud rising from the volcano. Volcanic ash can damage people’s airways and lungs, and eyes. The authorities on the island are telling people that if they must leave their homes, they should wear goggles and masks to protect themselves.
The eruption has entered a new phase
According to vulcanologists, the eruption has entered a new phase following the opening of a second vent with drones showing that the volcano’s cone had broken.
In a news conference reported on by Reuters, the director of volcano response committee Pevolca, Miguel Angel Morcuende, said:
“It is not unusual in this type of eruption that the cone of the volcano fractures. A crater is formed that does not support its own weight and the cone breaks.”
La Palma is one of the eight main islands that make up the Canary Islands archipelago. Located in the Atlantic Ocean 62 miles off the coast of Morocco, Spain’s Canary Islands are a popular vacation spot due to year-round spring-like weather.
Has the volcanic eruption on La Palma changed your vacation plans? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.