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La Palma flights suspended as ash cloud develops

The airport on the Canary island of La Palma was forced to close at the weekend due to intensifying volcanic explosions

All airports across the islands are now operational again but airlines are suspending flights to and from La Palma, Spanish airport operator Aena said.

The Cumbre Vieja volcano started erupting last Sunday with thousands evacuated and more than 350 homes destroyed.

A thick plume of smoke extended 2.4 miles into the air.

Clouds of thick ash made flights out of the airport impossible, authorities said on Saturday.

The closure prevented some leaving the island’s airport, which mostly handles many tourist flights and connections to other islands in the Canaries.

Inter-island airline Binter said La Palma flights would be halted until conditions allowed them to take place safely.

“The ash cloud originating from the volcanic eruption makes it necessary to maintain the temporary stoppage of flights to La Palma,” the carrier said.

Long queues were reported at the terminal as flights were cancelled, and some travellers tried to get ferries off the island.

The volcano is entering a fresh explosive phase, spewing lava from a newly opened vent, officials said.

Firefighters said on Friday they were withdrawing from the area “due to the intensification of explosive phenomena”.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez said that the cabinet would declare the island a “catastrophe zone” this week.

 The Canary Islands government has already announced a first round of financial aid for people who have lost their homes after being evacuated.

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