More than three thousand residents of La Palma were allowed to leave their homes today when authorities ended a lockdown ordered after a thick cloud of smoke erupted from a volcano that has devastated the Spanish Canary island.
A stream of red-hot lava gushing from the Cumbre Vieja volcano engulfed a cement plant on Monday, raising clouds of smoke and prompting authorities to instruct people in the area stay at home.
Emergency services told residents in the towns of El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane to stay indoors, shut their windows and turn off air conditioning units to avoid inhaling toxic fumes from the burning cement plant as it was gradually swallowed by the lava.
Today, authorities said the smoke cloud had passed and the air quality had improved so 3,500 residents could leave their homes.
La Palma airport remained open but 11 flights were cancelled on Tuesday and others were delayed, airport operator AENA said.
There were 64 seismic movements today, the strongest measuring 4.1, according to the Spanish National Geological Institute.
Lava from the eruption that began on Sept. 19 has laid waste to nearly 600 hectares in total, said Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan.
After the volcano's cone partially collapsed on Saturday, a new river of lava streamed towards the sea, devouring banana and avocado plantations and most of the remaining houses in the town of Todoque.
Torrents of molten rock have destroyed 1,186 buildings in the three weeks since the eruption, the Canary Islands Volcanic Institute said.
About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on La Palma, which has about 83,000 inhabitants