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An ash cloud from an erupting volcano caused the closure of La Palma airport in the Spanish Canary Islands.

Cumbre Vieja started exploding a week ago and forced 7,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Its lava destroyed 420 buildings and covered an area of ​​190 hectares, according to the latest data from Copernicus.

La Palma airport announced its closure on Saturday due to the build-up of volcanic ash near the facility.

The move comes after the cancellation on Friday of seven flights to and from the island.

La Palma airport operator Aena said on Twitter that air traffic had been suspended “due to the build-up of ash” in the air. The company said other airports in the Canary Islands were still operational.

La Palma is one of the seven islands that make up the Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanic eruption that began last Sunday is the first in 50 years in La Palma, which has a population of around 85,000.

The intensity of the volcanic eruptions has increased in recent days, causing the evacuation of three additional villages on the island.

Emergency crews withdrew from the volcano on Friday as explosions sent molten rock and ash over a large area.

But the speed of the lava flows has slowed markedly and authorities are no longer able to predict if and when they might arrive in the Atlantic Ocean.

The meeting between lava and the sea is feared because of the emission of toxic gases that it could cause.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that the Spanish government will declare La Palma an area affected by a natural disaster next Tuesday.

This measure will unblock the granting of aid to residents.

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euronews Gt