Firefighters withdraw due to the intensification of volcanic explosions in the Canary Islands

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The intensification of volcanic explosions on the Spanish island of La Palma forced firefighters to withdraw and authorities to evacuate three more cities on Friday, while airlines canceled flights due to a cloud of gas and ash, the largest since the volcano erupted.

Firefighters pulled out of cleanup work in the town of Todoque on Friday afternoon when a new vent opened on the flank of the volcano and videos shared on social media showed a massive shock wave emanating from the eruption site. .

A Reuters witness saw a huge gray cloud billowing from the top of the volcano on Friday afternoon, the largest since the eruption began on Sunday.

“The volcano is in a new explosive phase … Firefighters will no longer operate today,” tweeted the Tenerife fire service, which has been deployed to help on La Palma.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the part of Tacande de Arriba that had not yet been evacuated Friday afternoon, and residents were ordered to gather at the local soccer field.

Infrared video sequence of the current activity and the lava flows from the two new eruptive mouths / Infrared video of the current activity and the lava flows from the two new eruptive vents pic.twitter.com/YBsOJtckOW

– INVOLCAN (@involcan) September 24, 2021

The Canary Islands emergency services had initially told residents to stay indoors to avoid the dense cloud of ash and lava fragments, but later decided to evacuate due to the increased risk of explosions.

Not only the people were evacuated, but also the animals.

“The evacuation of people is the main priority … although there are also other important tasks such as keeping pets safe,” the Civil Guard tweeted, with a video showing agents taking reluctant goats to safety.

Since it erupted on Sunday, the Cumbre Vieja volcano has spewed thousands of tons of lava, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

No serious injuries or deaths have been reported, but about 15% of the island’s economically crucial banana crop could be at risk, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Canary Island airline Binter said on Friday that it had canceled all flights to La Palma due to the volcano eruption, while Iberia canceled its only scheduled flight for the day, and another local airline, Canaryfly, also suspended operations.

Binter said he was forced to stop operations to and from La Palma because the ash cloud had worsened considerably in recent hours.

The airline, which had initially only canceled night flights, could not say when it would resume operations.

A cloud of toxic gas and ash stretches more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) into the sky, the Canary Islands volcanology institute said on Thursday.

It has started moving northeast towards the Mediterranean and Spanish territory, the national meteorological agency said.

Airspace over the island remains open, apart from two small areas near the eruption site.

(REUTERS)