World

Flights cancelled as Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano erupts

The volcano has been active for half a million years.

The Popocatepetl volcano spews smoke and ash (Marco Ugarte/AP)
Mexico volcano The Popocatepetl volcano spews smoke and ash (Marco Ugarte/AP) (Marco Ugarte/AP)

The Popocatepetl volcano just 50 miles from Mexico’s capital has erupted 13 times in the past day, and the country’s National Disaster Prevention Centre urged people not to climb it because of the debris shooting out of the crater.

Volcanic ash from the Popocatepetl disrupted flights out of Mexico City’s largest airport on Tuesday and caused another airport even closer to the volcano to temporarily suspend activity.

Mexico City’s Benito Juarez international airport said at least 22 flights were cancelled because of safety concerns after ash was found in some planes during safety checks. Other flights were rerouted to different parts of Mexico.

In Puebla, a city close to the volcano, airport operations were temporarily suspended on Wednesday because of the gas and fumes coming from the “Popo”.

Mexico City’s airport also warned Wednesday that “operations could be suspended” and its website showed a number of cancellations and delays.

“Our priority is safety in operations,” the airport’s official account posted on X, formerly Twitter, adding that it is continually monitoring flight conditions.

According to the airport, the ash has produced a slew of safety concerns.

Volcanic ash is especially dangerous for aviation, not only because they reduce visibility but because they can act as an abrasive, damaging an aircraft’s wings and fuselage.

In airports, the ashes can coat runways, hurt airport personnel and cause a number of other logistical issues.

The volcano has been active for half a million years and regularly erupts.

Last year, large eruptions caused alarm after nearby towns were coated in ash, but volcanologists called the activity “nothing new or surprising”.

Its last major eruption was more than a thousand years ago.