TOURISTS are paying hundreds of pounds for flights to La Palma to see the volcano eruption – despite locals being evacuated.
Cumbre Vieja volcano began erupting on Sunday. A new emission vent has been opened to the west.
Thousands of tourists have been forced to flee the island by boat after the eruption destroyed houses and temporarily grounded flights.
Some tourists are returning to the volcano now that the airport is open.
Andrés Amegeiras, from Uruguay, said he paid €500 for flights – which usually cost €60 – to watch the eruption.
He said: “Since it exploded I’ve been thinking about whether or not to come. In the end, I decided on Wednesday.”
And 24-year-old Mario Mesa, from Tenerife, said he paid €60 for a boat ticket to see it, but ended up staying in a hostel after his friends were evacuated from the island.
He explained that he did it spontaneously. I work in a garden center, but I took a course on volcanology and geology so I didn’t hesitate.”
However, the popularity of the eruption has resulted in a lack of accommodation for residents who have been evacuated from certain areas, as well as huge traffic jams on usually quiet roads, especially where views of the volcano are the best,
Juan Pablo González, manager of a hospitality association on the Canary Islands, said “now is not the moment for tourism in La Palma”.
He said that many tourists are coming to La Palma from other islands, as our associates have told us.
“They are coming with the simple aim of seeing the volcano.
“Now is not the moment for tourism for La Palma, it’s the time to help, and these people are not doing that and are instead occupying beds that could, for example, be used by the security forces.”
The latest explosion occurred as a result of an earthquake under the volcano’s base on September 11 that slowly migrated to the surface.
More than 20,000 earthquakes were registered in one week, Reuters reports, sending lava shooting into the air and streaming in rivers towards the south of the island.
Cumbre Vieja erupted twice before, once in 1949 and again on April 7, 1971.