Spain reports first coronavirus case on mainland, hotel in Canaries locked down

By Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain discovered its first case of the coronavirus on the mainland on Tuesday after a four-star hotel in the Canary Islands was locked down for tests when a guest, and then his wife, were found to be infected.

The government said a woman from Barcelona had tested positive for the virus after a recent trip to northern Italy, which has reported more than 280 cases.

Earlier, government spokeswoman Maria Montero said that the guests in the Canary Islands hotel would “stay at the hotel until this second test and, depending on the results, appropriate health measures will be taken”.

The H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife would not comment, a receptionist at the Barcelona-based company managing the hotel said.

Guest Christopher Betts said over the phone from his room that there were police cars stationed at all entrances.

“We’re told we’re in quarantine due to an Italian doctor testing for the coronavirus. The hotel seems to be acting normally, except that we cannot go out,” he said.

Spanish health authorities said they would test hotel guests and staff. Late on Monday, they had said an Italian doctor on holiday in Tenerife had tested positive.

His wife tested positive on Tuesday, the regional government said.

The hotel has capacity for hundreds of guests, several restaurants and swimming pools, and is located 50 meters from the beach.

Media have said there are about 1,000 people there. On its Facebook page, the H10 Costa Adeje Palace said it planned a carnival party on Thursday evening.

Tens of thousands are expected this week in the Canary Islands for carnival festivities.

The Italian man and his wife were now in isolation in hospital. Before Monday, Spain had identified two cases – a German tourist in La Gomera, another Canary Island, and a British man in Mallorca.

Betts, a British national from Leicestershire, said guests had been allowed to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

“We were originally told to go back to our rooms after breakfast, but we haven’t done so, and everyone else seems to be talking around reception as normal. But unfortunately no one has any more information as yet, they’re all waiting for the health authorities.”

He said he had not been tested for the virus yet and had missed his flight home.

Hotel employees were wearing masks, but none was provided to the guests, Betts said. Video he provided from inside the hotel showed people carrying on normally, except for the masks.

Other hotel staff were waiting outside on the parking lot, unable to get into the hotel, footage shows.

(Additional reporting by Joan Faus, Paola Luelmo, Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Nick Macfie)

Canary Islands wildfire prompts 9,000 evacuations; reaches park

Trees burnt in a forest fire are seen in the village of Guia, in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – An out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands kept spreading on Monday, increasing to 9,000 the number of people evacuated from eight municipalities and reaching a natural park, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

Around 6,000 hectares (23.17 square miles) have burned so far and the fire has entered the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests and considered a complicated area for firefighters to intervene.

“We will defeat this serious and damaging fire,” Canary Islands’ regional president Angel Victor Torres said in a statement released by his office.

Gran Canaria’s airport is not being affected by the blaze, it added.

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 1,000 firefighters, are working to contain flames as high as 50 metres (164 feet), authorities said.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam and Joan Faus, aditional reporting by Borja Suarez, editing by Andres Gonzalez, Toby Chopra, William Maclean)

Evacuees fleeing Canary Islands wildfire rise to 8,000

A helicopter carries water to fight a forest fire seen in the village of Guia on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria, Spain, August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Borja Suarez

TEJEDA, Spain (Reuters) – Around 8,000 people have been evacuated as firefighters battle an out-of-control wildfire on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands, authorities said on Monday.

The blaze, which began on Saturday near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity. So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

“The fire remains out of control,” a spokeswoman for emergency services in the region told Reuters. “It is a very serious fire.”

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 700 firefighters, are currently working to contain flames as high as 50 meters, authorities said. More than 3,400 hectares have burned so far and the fire is moving aggressively toward the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests.

Some 400 firefighters spent the night battling the fire’s flanks, hoping to choke it off as it moved toward more populated areas.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam, additional reporting by Borja Suarez, editing by Andres Gonzalez and Toby Chopra)

New Eruption May Be Brewing at Volcano in Canary Islands

Two years after a new underwater volcano appeared offshore of El Hierro in the Canary Islands, earthquake swarms and a sudden change in height suggest a new eruption is brewing near the island’s villages, officials announced today (Dec. 27).

After the announcement, one of the largest temblors ever recorded at the volcanic island, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake, struck offshore of El Hierro at 12:46 p.m. ET (5:46 p.m. local time) today, the National Geographic Institute reported. Residents on the island reported strong shaking, and the quake was felt throughout the Canary Islands, according to news reports. The earthquake’s epicenter was 9 miles (15 kilometers) deep.

Before the earthquake struck early this afternoon, the island’s volcano monitoring agency, Pelvolca, had raised the volcanic eruption risk for El Hierro to “yellow.” This warning means that activity is increasing at the volcano, but no eruption is imminent. A similar burst of activity prompted a yellow warning in June 2012, but the volcano soon quieted down.

Source: Scientific American – New Eruption May Be Brewing at Volcano in Canary Islands

Could the Canaries soon get a new island? Recent earthquakes hint at an imminent underwater volcanic eruption

According to Involcan, the Volcanological Institute of the Canaries, over 550 earthquakes were reported and monitored between Monday and Christmas Day on Wednesday.

Some 30 of these were said to have been a 3-magnitude quake or higher.

The majority of these quakes, as well as the swelling on El Hierro, were centered on the region of La Restinga on the south coast of the island.

The 5.1-magnitude quake was the strongest ever recorded in the region and its epicenter was said to be around nine miles deep.

Source: Daily Mail – Could the Canaries soon get a new island? Recent earthquakes hint at an imminent underwater volcanic eruption

Volcanic Activity Increases for Canary Islands

Officials announced on Friday that the recent earthquake swarms and sudden change in height suggest a new eruption is brewing offshore El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

Following the announcement, the volcanic island was struck by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake at 12:46 p.m. ET according to the National Geographic Institute. The quake was felt throughout the Canary Islands.

Before the quake early Friday afternoon, parts of El Hierro had swelled nearly 3 inches in the past week and more than 550 earthquakes rattled the opposite side of the island between Monday and Wednesday. According to the Volcanological Institute of the Canaries (Involcan), the earthquakes are caused by underground magma fracturing rocks and swelling the surface as the hot rock reaches upward.

In 2011, El Hierro was the site of an underwater volcanic eruption that forced residents to evacuate.