La Palma volcano eruption forces stay-home order for some residents

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LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) – Authorities told several thousand residents of La Palma to stay home because of worsening air quality as the erupting volcano on the Spanish island spewed red-hot lava and thick clouds of black smoke.

Emergency services issued a lockdown order on Friday night for people in Los Llanos de Aridane and El Paso, two of the worst affected towns.

“The new lockdown is as a consequence of the meteorological conditions… that prevent the dispersion of gases and keep them at low levels of the atmosphere,” emergency services said in a statement. They said the lockdown would affect around 3,500 people. 

Those affected have been told to keep their doors and windows closed and to disconnect heating and air conditioning to prevent outside air from entering. 

A handout satellite image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and made available by the European Space Agency (ESA) shows the flow of lava from the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupting on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, 30 September 2021 (issue 02 October 2021). In this image, the cascade of lava can be seen spilling into the Atlantic Ocean, extending the size of the coastline. This ‘lava delta’ covered about 20 hectares when the image was taken. A crack opened in the Cumbre Vieja volcano on 19 September, throwing plumes of ash and lava into the air. Lava flowed down the mountain and through villages engulfing everything in its path. By 28 September, the six-km lava flow had reached the ocean on the island’s west coast. Clouds of white steam were reported where the red-hot lava hit the water in the Playa Nueva area. EPA-EFE/EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY HANDOUT

Lockdowns had already been ordered in the areas of San Borondon, Marina Alta, Marina Baja and La Condesa.

About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes since the Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on Sept. 19.

More than 800 buildings have been destroyed on the island, which has a population of about 83,000 and is one of an archipelago making up the Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

On Friday, lava flowed from a new vent in the volcano, which the Canaries Volcanology Institute described as a new “focus of eruption”.

The volcano was experiencing “intense activity”, Miguel Angel Morcuende, director of the Pevolca response committee, told a news conference on Friday. But he also put the eruption into the context of the wider island.

“Less than 8% of the island is affected by the volcano. The rest is leading a normal life,” he said.


Photo  Handout photo made available by the official channel of the National Geographic Institute IGNspain on 01 October 2021 shows the lava peninsula formed by the Cumbre Vieja volcano eruption in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. The sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by the volcano have increased, although they do not seem to be a risk for the population for now, according to the Spanish National Security Department (DSN). EPA-EFE/IGNspai

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