Gases being emitted from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Monday afternoon. / MIGUEL CALERO / EFE

Toxic gas concern forces the lockdown of 33,000 residents on La Palma

Pevolca advised residents to close doors, windows, shutters and all air inlets from the outside, and even take shelter in the innermost rooms

AP

The toxic gases being released by the La Palma volcano forced some 33,000 residents to be locked down on Monday (13 December) due to serious concerns about the "extremely unfavourable" air quality.

Those affected were residents of Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Tazacorte municipalities that registered high concentrations of sulphur dioxide and where some 40 per cent of the island's population live.

The intense "degassing process" created by the eruption led the authorities to order the confinement from the early hours of Monday morning, an emergency measure that was lifted at 1pm in the afternoon after an improvement in the wind direction. According to the Canary Islands Government, a level of 750 micrograms of sulphur dioxide per cubic metre was exceeded at the El Paso monitoring station.

The air quality alert led to pupils being kept inside schools in the municipalities and parents being banned from picking up their children until the emergency ended.

The Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canary Islands (Pevolca) even recommended residents to close doors, windows, shutters and all air inlets from the outside, and suggested they should take shelter in the innermost rooms.