Thousands flee as La Palma volcanic eruption intensifies

Thousands flee as La Palma volcanic eruption intensifies

Thousands flee as La Palma volcanic eruption intensifies

Intensifying volcanic explosions on the Spanish island of La Palma have forced firefighters to retreat and authorities to evacuate three more towns, while airlines cancelled flights because of a cloud of gas and ash, the biggest since the volcano erupted.

Almost 7,000 people have had to flee their properties amid loud explosions, a large cloud of ash and a cracked fissure that has let out additional lava. The ash cloud, which the Canaries volcanology institute said had extended to around 2.5 miles in the sky on Friday, forced regional airline Binter to cancel flights into and out of the island. 

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

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez remained on the island, where he’s been most of the week since eruptions started last Sunday. He addressed the reports on Friday saying that the Spanish government has approved “immediate financial aid for housing” for displaced people as well as financial aid for those affected to purchase household goods.

Scientists say the lava flows on La Palma could last for weeks or even months. The last eruption on the island, in 1971, went on for just over three weeks.