Sand storm in Canary Islands causes chaos: air traffic resumed

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Airports open again: Sandstorm sweeps over Canary Islands: flight cancellations in Gran Canaria and Tenerife

After a sandstorm, all eight airports in the Canary Islands have reopened. The weather conditions improved on Monday night and air traffic had resumed, the Spanish Ministry of Transport said.

Thousands of stranded tourists stuck at the holiday island's airports were able to fly home. The sandstorm called Calima had caused numerous flight cancellations and chaos at the airports in Gran Canaria and Tenerife at the weekend.

After the first flight cancellations on Saturday in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, all eight airports in the Spanish archipelago were closed on Sunday due to poor visibility. There was fine desert sand from the Sahara in the air, which was blown by strong winds onto the Canaries off the coast of Morocco.

The situation slowly relaxed on Monday morning. Some of the airports in the Canary Islands have started operating again, according to airport operator Aena on Monday morning via Twitter. Travelers should check with their airline whether the flight in question is operating.

800 flights in Canary Islands affected by sandstorm

More than 800 flights were canceled on Sunday alone, and thousands of passengers were stuck. Camp beds were set up at both airports in Tenerife for tourists who could not find a hotel room – due to the famous carnival, many hotels are currently fully booked on the island. However, because planes could take off and land again at night, the crowds at the airports soon subsided, as the Canary Islands Regional President Angel Víctor Torres said on Spanish television.

Local experts could not "remember such bad weather for air traffic in the Canary Islands," said Transport Minister José Luis Abalos on Sunday. Torres said there hasn't been such a bad sandstorm in the Canary Islands for four decades. He spoke of a "nightmare weekend". On Monday, the Spanish air traffic control Enaire announced an improvement in the weather conditions.

According to the airport operator, some flights were also diverted to the Cape Verde Islands, Morocco, Mauritania and Portugal. Spain's Minister of Transport José Luis Abalos thanked for the "solidarity" of these countries. Local experts could not remember "such bad weather for air traffic in the Canary Islands," he wrote in the online service Twitter.

Storm gusts of up to 160 km / h measured

The Spanish Weather Service registered gusts of up to 160 kilometers an hour on the Canary Islands, which lie off the Moroccan coast in the Atlantic, on Sunday night. The Norwegian shipping company Fred. Olsen & Co. initially ceased ferry services between the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote and between San Sebastián and Valle Gran Rey on the island of La Gomera on Sunday.

The storm also affected fire fighting in Gran Canaria. A fire broke out near the village of Tasarte in the southwest of the island on Saturday. Due to the strong wind, no fire engines could take off on Sunday. According to the regional government of the Canaries, the fire has already destroyed around 300 hectares of land, around 500 people had to be brought to safety.

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praise / AFP

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