September 25 (WNN) — Flights have been canceled and residents ordered to evacuate as a volcanic eruption intensifies on Spain’s La Palma island.
The volcanic eruption began on September 19 in the Cumbre Vieja Rift in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa and is the first since 1971.
The Canary Islands government said on Saturday it was evacuating the villages of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and Tacande de Ariba as a security measure. Enair, an air navigation manager in Spain and West Sahara, has also restricted areas for the municipalities of El Paso and Los Llanos de Ariadne.
Lava has destroyed 400 homes and buildings on the island of 85,000 and caused the evaluation of 6,000 people, CNN reports.
The ash emanating from the volcano remains a concern and the local government has instructed residents to stay inside and wear goggles and face coverings when exiting.
Canary Islands Volcanoes Institute but said Twitter said Friday that the explosion sent shocks of wind that can travel faster than the speed of sound, a sudden disintegration through the atmosphere. Earlier that day, a second emission vent was opened to the west of the primary of the eruption to allow more gas and lava to escape.
Spanish airport operator Aina said on Twitter Friday that it had closed La Palma airport due to a build-up of ash, which workers were cleaning on Saturday.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Friday that local authorities and the Spanish government were working to provide relief to residents. He said his government was preparing to rebuild the island, pledging that the residents would not be forgotten.
As the Guardian reports, rivers of lava are continuously flowing in the mountainous region of the island. But the pace has slowed significantly, Miguel ngel Moracunde, the head of the Canary Islands volcanic emergency plan, told the news outlet.
According to the Guardian, Morkuende told reporters, “I don’t dare to tell you when it’s going to get there, nor do I dare to predict.”
The Canary Islands Volcanoes Institute posted some positive news on Twitter on Saturday.
“Over the past few hours, the magnitude of the volcanic tremor has decreased significantly in all stations of the Canary Islands seismic network in La Palma,” it said.