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La Palma volcano could continue to erupt for months, scientists say

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Police officers and emergency personnel look as lava flows from a volcano on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Police officers and emergency personnel look as lava flows from a volcano on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Passengers boarding a ferry at the port in the Canary island of La Palma, Spain. Authorities are telling people who live near an erupting volcano to stay indoors due to a heavy fall of ash that has forced the cancellation of flights and school classes. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Passengers boarding a ferry at the port in the Canary island of La Palma, Spain. Authorities are telling people who live near an erupting volcano to stay indoors due to a heavy fall of ash that has forced the cancellation of flights and school classes. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

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Police officers and emergency personnel look as lava flows from a volcano on the Canary island of La Palma, Spain. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

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 tiny La Palma, which is part of the 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 unfavourable” because of high levels of small particles in the air, emergency services belonging to the Canary Islands government said in a statement.

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

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

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

“It is worth it,” she said of her trip.

“To hear it roar, to see how the lava falls. You have to experience it”.

León Peña (65) said he came from the nearby island of Fuerteventura to see what he called “something unique”.

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Both said they knew flight cancellations were a possibility.

However, they did not let that deter them from traveling to La Palma.

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.

Around 85,000 people live on La Palma, and most of the island is unaffected by the eruption.

More than 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes due to the growing threat from the rivers of lava.

The molten rock has covered more than 997 hectares 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 earthquake was felt on the island yesterday morning, according to the National Geographical Institute.


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