Westerly winds bringing more ash to Sweden

Malmö Sturup Airport reopened on Thursday morning, only to close again in the afternoon as volcanic ash continues to hinder air traffic in Sweden.

Westerly winds bringing more ash to Sweden

Airports in Örnsköldsvik, Sundsvall Härnösand, Skellefteå and Umeå were also closed late on Thursday afternoon.

Other airports were closed for parts of the day, including Kristianstad, Jönköping, Karlstad, Östersund and airports in Gothenburg.

More volcanic ash was forecast to drift in from the west over the course of Thursday evening.

Airspace over central areas of Sweden around Jönköping, Dalsland, Värmland, Dalarna and Härjedalen closed late on Wednesday, as did Jämtland and the coast from Sundsvall to Umeå, while some airports in the far north remained open.

Elsewhere in Europe officials said that air traffic would resume almost full service on Thursday, according to the BBC. Swedavia, the firm which operates 14 Swedish airports, estimated that around half of scheduled flights would run.

“As there are domestic problems and it is open in the remainder of Europe, then it is primarily European services which are running,” said Per Fröberg at Swedavia.

Fröberg was unwilling to forecast how Thursday would develop, saying only that they were following LFV’s forecasts.

Tens of thousands of people remained stranded worldwide after a week of chaos caused by the ash cloud emanating from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland.

According to the International Air Transport Association, cited by the BBC, airlines have lost $1.7 billion as a result of the disruption and many are claiming compensation from their respective governments with some arguing that regulators have been too heavy-handed in dealing with the crisis.

But scientists have leaped to the defence of aviation regulators arguing that the combination of glass and rock particles contained in the volcanic ash made it too dangerous to fly and left them with little choice but to close the skies.

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3,000 people in Spain’s La Palma forced indoors as lava reaches sea

Around 3,000 people were ordered to remain indoors on the Canary island of La Palma on Monday as lava from an erupting volcano reached the sea, risking the release of toxic gas.

3,000 people in Spain's La Palma forced indoors as lava reaches sea
The lava flow produced by the Cumbre Vieja volcano has reached the sea before. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

The Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) “ordered the confinement” of residents of coastal towns and villages near where the lava cascaded into the sea, sending large plumes of white smoke into the air, local emergency services said on Twitter.

The order was given due to “the possible release of gases that are harmful to health,” it added.

The order affects “around 3,000” people on the island, Miguel Angel Morcuende, technical director of Pevolca, told a news conference.

This is the third time that a lava flow has reached the Atlantic Ocean since the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the south of the island erupted on September 19th, covering large areas with ash.

All flights to and from La Palma’s airport were cancelled on Monday because of the ash, the third straight day that air travel has been disrupted.

And for the first time since the eruption started, local authorities advised residents of La Palma’s capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma in the east, to use high-filtration FFP2 face masks to protect themselves from emissions of dioxide and sulphur.

Most of the island, which is home to around 85,000 people, is so far unaffected by the eruption.

But parts of the western side where lava flows have slowly made their way to the sea face an uncertain future.

The molten rock has covered 1,065 hectares (2,630 acres) and destroyed nearly 1,500 buildings, according to Copernicus, the European Union’s satellite monitoring service.

Lava has destroyed schools, churches, health centres and irrigation infrastructure for the island’s banana plantations — a key source of jobs — as well as hundreds of homes.

Provisional damage was estimated on Friday at nearly €900 million ($1 billion), according to the regional government.

The island of La Palma, part of the Canary Islands archipelago off northwestern Africa, is experiencing its third eruption in a century, with
previous ones in 1949 and 1971.