Volcanic ash darkens La Palma's pristine salt flats

Andres Hernandez's pristine white salt flats on the Spanish island of La Palma have turned black.

A third of his annual production in the past two weeks has been ruined since the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted there.

The Hernandez family is used to living under the threat of volcanoes.

La Palma's last eruption was 50 years ago - lava stopped about 655 feet short of his family's saltworks, putting them out of business for two years.

Now, Hernandez, a third-generation salt flat owner, is resolved to cleaning up and carrying on making salt.

"When the ash fell we were about to collect the salt, but it completely covered everything creating a crust on top and we cannot separate the salt from the ash. It has completely penetrated the grain. It's impossible to separate."

The eruption has also deterred visitors to the saltworks,one of the island's tourist attractions.

"The contrast here should be between the white salt and the black volcanic rock, but what we have is grey ash and black volcanic material. As owners of this place who live here, we feel very sad to see the salt flats in this condition. It looks abandoned, with no activity."

The volcano, 11 miles away, has been blasting out jets of lava and ash since September 19, destroying hundreds of buildings and farms and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

The economic damage has yet to be properly evaluated.

But Hernandez remains positive, saying that many on the island are much worse off.

"Perhaps they have lost more than us, they have lost their entire homes, everything, but we have only lost salt production which we can recover. It will take lots of work but we will be able to recover this area."

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