Tuesday. 20.02.2024

Air traffic on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma has been suspended for an indefinite period due to a build-up of volcanic ash, as a relatively strong earthquake jolted residents and a fresh lava flow caused concern.

The operating company Aena said on Thursday the airport on La Palma had to halt service due to the conditions. The airlines Binter and Canaryfly already announced the day before they would no longer fly to the Atlantic Ocean island.

This leaves travellers with only the sea route to come or go. The ferries take about four hours to the neighbouring island, Tenerife, where air traffic has been running normally.

The 85,000 people who live on La Palma were shaken by a magnitue-4.3 quake on Thursday, the strongest since the seismic and volcanic activity began last month, according to Spain's National Geographic Institute.

The quake posed no great danger, including in terms of the volcanic activity, experts quoted by Spanish media said. No damage had been reported.

Meanwhile, according to the regional authorities, a new stream of lava has started to flow. Some areas that had been spared so far were affected, but the impact remains limited. Agricultural workers and researchers who were in the area were moved to safer locales.

Stay indoors

The authorities called on people near the volcano to stay indoors if possible, because of the ash fall, and to wear an FFP2 mask and protective goggles when outdoors.

The volcano is in the south of La Palma island, which is less known to tourists than the other Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, such as Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura or Lanzarote, erupted on September 19 for the first time in 50 years.

Volcanologists have been unable to say how long it will remain active.

Since the beginning of the eruption, the lava flows have destroyed more than 1,000 buildings and caused extensive damage to agriculture and the island's infrastructure.

More than 6,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Airport on La Palma shut due to ash as Spanish island jolted by quake