Sun, 17 Oct 2021

LA PALMA, Spain, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- King Felipe VI of Spain and his wife Queen Letizia travelled to La Palma on Thursday to meet people affected by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island.

Lava issued from the volcano has destroyed over 350 homes and covered over 165 hectares to a depth of up to 15 meters since the eruption began on Sunday afternoon.

Over 6,000 people from the island's population of just over 80,000 had been evacuated, including the inhabitants of Todique, which lies on the path of the lava. The lava flow has been descending towards the sea at a speed of approximately four meters an hour.

Firefighters are currently attempting to channel the flow away from as many homes as possible, while emergency services are working to clear volcanic ash off flat roofs to avoid the danger of collapse and to help residents evacuated from Todique rescue their belongings from their homes.

The King and Queen were accompanied by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who was making his second visit to La Palma in five days.

The regional president of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, and Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska were also present during the visit, which began at El Fuente barracks in La Palma. This military installation has been turned into temporary accommodation for those displaced by the eruption.

Afterwards, King Felipe and Prime Minister Sanchez also spoke to representatives of the security forces and rescue services, who are overseeing operations.

On Wednesday, the Vulcanology Institute of the Canary Islands (INVOLCAN) estimated the eruption could last for 24-84 days. The volcano currently emits between 6,140 and 11,500 tons of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) every day.

Although six roads on the island have been closed due to the eruption, La Palma airport remains open with 48 flights scheduled for Thursday. Nevertheless, the airline Tui has cancelled all its flights to the island.

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