Spanish volcano eruption intensifies and suspends flights

Al Goodman, CNNPublished 25th September 2021
Lava spews from a volcano on the Canary island of La Palma.
(CNN) — Eruptions from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma have intensified, as flights are suspended and officials ordered additional evacuations -- bringing the total number of evacuees to almost 6,000 people.
"According to the records of the volcanic surveillance that has been carried out since the beginning of the eruption, this afternoon the most energetic moment of the eruptive process took place," according to a statement from the regional Canary Island government on Friday evening.
The latest 160 people evacuated were removed from three more towns and would not be allowed to return to their homes to retrieve their belongings because of the "evolution of the volcanic emergency," officials added.
La Palma's airport was "inoperative" on Saturday, after several flights to and from La Palma were canceled on Friday afternoon, due to "ash accumulation" from the recent volcano activity in the region, Spain's airport operator AENA tweeted on Saturday.
AENA, a state-owned company that manages airports and heliports in Spain, went on to add that "cleaning tasks have started, but the situation may change at any time."
"The priority is to guarantee the safety of operations," AENA added.
"The rest of the Canarias airports are operational. However, if you are going to fly, check with your airline about the status of your flight," AENA concluded.
Vehicles are covered by ash from the volcanic eruption on La Palma.
Vehicles are covered by ash from the volcanic eruption on La Palma.
Emilio Morenatti/AP
Binter, an airline serving the Canary Islands, also confirmed via a tweet on Saturday, that it would not fly in and out of La Palma due to the presence of volcanic ash. The airline, however, has said it had resumed other flights to La Gomera island and to Tenerife island, due to improving conditions.
Saturday marks the seventh straight day of volcanic eruptions on La Palma, one of the smallest islands in Spain's Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez remained on the island Friday morning, where he's been most of the week since eruptions started last Sunday.
Sanchez told reporters on Friday that the Spanish government has approved "immediate financial aid for housing" for displaced people as well as financial aid for those affected to purchase household goods.
Angel Victor Torres, president of the Canary Islands, said on Thursday that some 400 homes and buildings had already been destroyed by the lava, according to reports in Spanish media.
Spain's King and Queen on Thursday traveled from Madrid to La Palma and met evacuees as well as emergency personnel.