Flights cancelled and schools shut after latest volcanic eruption on La Palma

La Palma volcano has been spewing lava, ash and gases for more than six weeks. Credit: AP

Authorities on the Spanish island of La Palma are telling people who live near an erupting volcano to stay indoors because of a heavy fall of ash that has forced the cancellation of flights and school classes.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, which is part of Spain’s Canary Islands off northwest Africa, has been spewing lava, ash and gases for more than six weeks. The eruption has alternately surged and ebbed since September 19.

Local air quality is “extremely unfavorable” because of high levels of small particles in the air, emergency services belonging to the Canary Islands government said in a statement late on Tuesday.

All flights to and from the island have been cancelled because of the falling ash, according to Spain’s national airport authority.

With flights cancelled, some tourists who came on a sightseeing trip to witness the eruption had to wait in long lines for ferries to leave the island on Wednesday.

Madrid resident, Patricia Privado, 30, described the erupting volcano as “a spectacle of nature”.

Passengers queue to board a ferry to leave La Palma after flights were cancelled because of the volcanic eruption Credit: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

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

Leon Pena, 65, said he came from the nearby island of Fuerteventura to see what he called “something unique”.

Both said they knew flight cancellations were a possibility, but they didn’t let that deter them from traveling to La Palma.

Lava flows, destroying houses and banana plantations.

They also saw their trips as a way of supporting the local economy by spending money on the island.

Scientists have said the eruption could last up to three months.

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

More than 7.000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to the threat from the rivers of lava.

The molten rock has covered more than 2,463 acres of land and crushed or damaged more than 2,200 buildings.

The volcano’s constant roar and numerous earthquakes have also kept locals on edge. A magnitude five quake was felt in the island on Wednesday morning according to the National Geographical Institute.