Canary Islands’ airports reopen as wind and sandstorm ease

MADRID (AP) — Airports on Spain’s Canary Islands reopened yesterday after authorities said the worst is over from strong winds that have thickened the air with sand and dust from the Sahara desert.

The sandstorm was accompanied over the weekend by wind gusts up to 120 kph that also fanned at least three wildfires on different islands of the archipelago some 100 kilometres west of the African coast.

Primary schools were closed on all eight islands yesterday.

The head of the regional government Ángel Víctor Torres said authorities are hoping for the situation to ease as wind speeds diminished and a mild rain fell on some of the islands.

“It’s been a nightmare of a weekend,” Torres told Spain’s public broadcaster TVE. “We haven’t seen an episode like this in 40 years.”

He said authorities were focussing resources on fighting wildfires, including one in a natural reserve on the island of Gran Canaria.

Two passengers cover their noses and mouths in a cloud of red dust at the airport in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. PHOTO: AP