Volcanic ash forces airport to shut on La Palma

DESIREE MARTIN / AFP

Lava continues to flow from the volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, forcing the airport to close due to ash accumulation.

Since it began erupting on Sunday on the small island in the Atlantic, the Cumbre Vieja volcano has spewed out thousands of tons of lava, destroyed hundreds of houses and forced the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people.

Authorities said on Saturday that the 160 people evacuated from three more towns on Friday would not be able to return to their homes to retrieve their belongings because of the "evolution of the volcanic emergency".

Experts said the volcano had entered a new explosive phase, saying volcanic surveillance measurements recorded the highest-energy activity so far during Friday afternoon.

La Palma, with a population of over 83,000, is one of an archipelago making up the Canary Islands.
On Friday, firefighters retreated rom clean-up work in the town of Todoque, airlines cancelled flights, and authorities evacuated the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the part of Tacande de Arriba that had not already been evacuated after a new vent opened up in the flank of the volcano.
Videos shared on social media showed a massive shockwave emanating from the eruption site on Friday.

No serious injuries or fatalities have been reported in the volcano's eruption, but about 15% of the island's economically crucial banana crop could be at risk, jeopardising thousands of jobs.

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