By Marco Trujillo
LA PALMA, Spain (Reuters) – Authorities in Spain’s La Palma lifted a stay-at-home order on Monday just a few hours after telling people to stay indoors due to poor air quality caused by the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano.
The eruption, which has sent spectacular rivers of molten lava running down the slopes of Cumbre Vieja for nearly three months, is the longest running on the Spanish Canary island since records began in 1500.
Around 24,500 residents in Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Tazacorte – a third of La Palma’s inhabitants – were asked to stay indoors due to emissions of sulphur dioxide that had reached “extremely adverse” levels, authorities said.
In affected municipalities, residents were told to stay inside, while students were told to remain in schools and parents not to pick them up until the air quality cleared.
However, a few hours later, emergency services lifted the order thanks to an improvement in air quality data and said students would leave school at the regular time.
“We’re all a bit scared,” said 64-year old Carlos Ramos in Los Llanos de Aridane, explaining that nothing similar had happened with previous eruptions on the island.
“We’ll see how it all ends because I don’t trust it (the volcano) and I’m not totally sure it’s ever going to end.”
Lava flows have damaged or destroyed at least 2,910 buildings, according to the EU satellite monitoring system Copernicus, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes on the island, part of the subtropical Canaries archipelago.
(Reporting by Marco Trujillo and Borja Suárez; writing by Emma Pinedo; editing by Nathan Allen, Mark Heinrich and Raissa Kasolowsky)