La Palma volcano: Are Canary Island holidays still safe? Island declared ‘disaster zone’

La Palma volcano spews lava as it continues to erupt

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A volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma has erupted once more, with molten lava now rapidly approaching the coastline, threatening the release of toxic vapour. The Spanish government has since declared the island as a “disaster zone”, with further emergency measures now in force.

While La Palma is not the most popular tourist destination in the Canary Islands, it still attracts an array of holidaymakers looking to enjoy its unique character.

Santa Cruz, the capital, is the main hotspot for visitors.

However, the island is neighbour to popular Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which sit approximately 241km and 246km away respectively.

Lanzarote, another Canary Island hotspot, sits approximately 481km away.

Are the Canary Islands still safe for a holiday?

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is not yet advising against non-essential travel to the Canary Islands.

The FCDO states: “On Sunday, September 19, 2021, at approximately 15.15 local time, there was a volcanic eruption on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma.

“The immediate areas of Los Llanos de Aridane, Tazacorte and El Paso have been evacuated.

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“If you are in an affected area you should follow the advice of local authorities, including social media updates from Cabildo de La Palma.

“If you are planning to travel to the island imminently you are encouraged to contact your tour operators/airlines.”

Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto remains positive that the island is still safe for tourists.

Speaking to local radio station Canal Sur, she said: “There are no restrictions on going to the island.

“On the contrary, we’re passing on the information so tourists know they can travel to the island and enjoy something unusual, see it for themselves.”

Are any flights cancelled?

La Palma airport is open, though flights are not currently running.

The airport closed on Saturday due to a major eruption from the volcano.

Though it reopened on Sunday, flights remain cancelled.

So far, there have been no disruptions to flights visiting nearby islands.

Travellers are advised to check with their specific airline or travel operator.

What is the latest update on the volcanic eruption?

The Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on September 19, spewing hot lava and ash into the air.

More than 6,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area to escape the 1,250C (2,282F) lava rapidly flowing from the open cracks.

Among those evacuated were 400 tourists who have been moved to Tenerife.

The natural disaster has already destroyed more than 500 homes and businesses.

On Monday evening, a fresh eruption occurred, with fears for acid rain and toxic gas growing as the lava heads closer to the sea.

Should the lava mix with the saltwater, this could cause an explosion resulting in clouds of gas containing hydrochloric acid which is dangerous to inhale.

The volcano has so far spewed out more than 46 million cubic metres of molten rock, according to the Canary Island Volcanology Institute.

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