Volcanic ash from the eruption rushes Spanish islanders indoors

Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands — Officials on the island of La Palma in Spain are telling people living near the erupting volcano to stay indoors because a heavy ash fall canceled flights and school lessons.

Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, part of the Canary Islands of Spain in northwestern Africa, has been erupting lava, ash and gas for over six weeks. Eruptions have alternately surged and declined since September 19.

An emergency service belonging to the Canary Islands government said in a statement late Tuesday that the air quality in the area was “very unfavorable” due to the high levels of small particles in the air.

All round-trip flights to and from the island have been canceled due to ash fall, according to the Spanish national airport authorities.

Due to the cancellation of the flight, some tourists who came on a sightseeing trip to witness the eruption had to wait in long lines for the ferry to leave the island on Wednesday.

Patricia Privado, 30, from Madrid, described the erupted volcano as a “natural sight.”

“It’s worth it,” she said of the trip. “To hear it roar, to see how the lava falls. You have to experience it.”

Passengers line up as they try to board the ferry at the port of La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, on November 3, 2021. (Emilio Morenatti / AP Photo)

Leon Penha, 65, said he came from nearby Fuerteventura to see what he called “something unique.”

Both knew that the flight could be canceled, but said it did not allow them to discourage their trip to La Palma. They also saw their trip as a way to support the local economy by spending money on the island.

Scientists say the eruption can last up to three months.

About 85,000 people live in La Palma. Most of the island is unaffected by the eruption.

The threat from the lava river has displaced more than 7,000 people from their homes.

The melted rocks covered more than 997 hectares (2,463 acres) and crushed and damaged more than 2,200 buildings.

The constant roar of the volcano and numerous earthquakes have also hunted down the locals. According to the National Institute of Geography, a magnitude 5 earthquake struck the island on Wednesday morning.

Emilio Morenatti

Associated Press