The eruption of the La Palma volcano. / JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

Cement factory toxic gas threat leads to new lockdown for 3,000 people on La Palma

Residents will be confined to their homes until experts say the air quality is good enough for them to leave

ANTONIO PANIAGUA

Some 3,000 people have been ordered to stay in their homes, with doors and windows closed, after a lava flow from the La Palma volcano sparked a blaze at a cement factory.

Health officials on the island have ordered the lockdown over fears that toxic gases could be emitted from the blaze.

The affected resdients live near an industrial estate in Callejón de la Gata, in Los Llanos de Aridane, and they will have remain in their homes until it is verified that the air quality is good enough for them to leave.

Lava more fluid

The technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende, has that in the last few hours the lava has become quite fluid, which has caused it to increase in quantity and cause some overflows with respect to the main ‘tongue’.

620 homes affected

The total affected area now amounts to 591 hectares, which is 65.33 more than the day before.

"This is a remarkable increase, of more than 10 per cent," Morcuende reported. The maximum width is still about 1,520 metres and the number of properties affected by the lava spills from the volcano total 753, of which 620 are homes.

New lava delta

María José Blanco, director of Spain’s National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canary Islands, said that after the lava lake collapsed last Saturday following the partial collapse of the main cone, the lava flows have advanced to the north of the main stream, following a path to the west, heading in the direction of the sea. The distance to the ocean was only 300 metres by this afternoon. It is possible that a new lava delta will form at sea in the Playa del Perdido area, north of the platform that has already been created by the volcanic material.