The new emission vent opened just to the west of the main vent, according to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute. Shocking images captured by drones overlooking the volcano from the National Geographical and Mining Institute show the volcano’s cone had broken. Spanish airport operator Aena confirmed the island’s airport had been subsequently closed.
It tweeted: “La Palma airport is inoperative due to ash accumulation. Cleaning tasks have started, but the situation may change at any time.”
Airport employees swept volcanic ash off the runway, while electronic boards showed cancelled flights.
The departures hall was almost deserted with a number of people arriving at the airport being told they would not be able to fly out.
Long queues formed at La Palma’s main port as people who had seen their flights cancelled attempted to flee the island by ferry.
Carlos Garcia, 47, said: “I am going to Barcelona. But because we can’t fly we are taking the ferry to Los Cristianos (on Tenerife island) and from there we will go to the airport and fly to Barcelona.”
Director of volcano response committee Pevolca, Miguel Angel Morcuende, told a news conference on Saturday: “It is not unusual in this type of eruption that the cone of the volcano fractures.
“A crater is formed that does not support its own weight and the cone breaks.
Since it began erupting last Sunday, the volcano has spewed out thousands of tons of lave, destroying hundreds of homes and triggering the evacuation of some 6,000 people.
Local authorities warned those evacuated from three further towns on Friday cannot return to their homes to retrieve their belongings.
This is because of the “evolution of the volcanic emergency”.
Emergency services said: “Volcanic surveillance measurements carried out since the beginning of the eruption recorded the highest-energy activity so far during Friday afternoon.”
Yesterday (Friday) authorities evacuated the towns of Tajuya, Tacande de Abajo and the part of Tacande de Arriba that had not already been evacuated.
No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, but some 15 percent of the island’s crucial banana crop could be at serious risk, threatening thousands of jobs.
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