Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris Men's Fall/Winter 2015, freedom of speech triumphs

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2015: Businesses 'cautiously optimistic' in Japan

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Twitter storm as IMF boss Christine Lagarde hails Saudi King Abdullah as 'strong advocate of women'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR CONGO: Senate amends controversial constitutional law

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Pope Family Planning: Heated Debate over Pontiff's 'Rabbit' Comments (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Saudi King Abdullah Dies: Succession, Stability and Youth in Question (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France tackles terror

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric: 'France is on a better track'

Read more

DEBATE

Davos debate: Can big business agree on climate deal? (part 2)

Read more

Europe

Volcanic eruption sparks fears of flight chaos

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-22

Iceland closed its main airport Sunday after the powerful eruption of a volcano sent a thick plume of ash and smoke into the air, leaving airlines fearing a return to airspace closures like those imposed during the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption.

 

REUTERS - Ash from a massive plume of smoke from an eruption of Iceland's most active volcano could spread south to parts of Europe next week, but experts on Sunday still hoped the impact on air travel would be limited.
 
The eruption at Grimsvotn has so far hit only Iceland, which closed its international airspace. A thick cloud of ash blocked out the daylight at towns and villages at the foot of the glacier where the volcano lies and covered cars and buildings.
 
The eruption is much stronger than at a volcano further south last year which closed European airspace for six days.
 
Airlines were told on Sunday during a conference call with weather experts and officials responsible for European airspace to brace for a possible further spread of ash later in the week.
 
"There is the potential for some ash to be effective in northern Scotland and the northern North Sea by midday on the 24th," a UK weather official tracking the cloud told airlines.
 
"After that, as long as the volcano continues to erupt at the same intensity, there are concerns that ash could become effective further into the UK and western France and northern Spain by the 26th or 27th (Thursday and Friday)," he added.
 
Others said the impact on air travel this time was set to be more limited as winds were more favourable, the content of the plume was heavier and less likely to spread and authorities now had a higher tolerance for ash levels, they said.
 
"It could lead to some disruption, but only for a very limited time and only over a very limited area," said University of Iceland Professor of Geophysics Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson.
 
"We see some signs that the power is declining a bit, but it is still quite powerful," Gudmundsson said, adding that the eruption was the most violent at the volcano since 1873.
 
Iceland's meteorological office said the plume had fallen to 10 to 15 km in height from a maximum of 25 km (16 miles).
 
Black as night
 
Gudmundsson said the wind direction was different this year, meaning the ash was falling mainly around Iceland. "But also very importantly the rules that apply today and the models are very different. The tolerance is much higher," he said.
 
Dave Mcgarvie, volcanologist at Britain's Open University, agreed. He said any ash which reached Britain would be less than last year and added that experience gained since the 2010 eruption would lead to less disruption.
 
In emailed comments, he said "minor re-routing" should enable aircraft to avoid zones where ash is concentrated.
 
The new eruption at Grimsvotn, which last exploded in 2004, has sent up a huge bubbling mass of ash and smoke, which seeped above the clouds high over the North Atlantic island.
 
Grimsvotn lies under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, the largest glacier in Europe.
 
Areas to the south of glacier have been covered in thick layers of ash and for several hours the sun was blocked out.
 
"It was like night is during the winter," said Benedikt Larusson, speaking in the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
 
"Now it is a little bit better, now I can see about 100 metres, but before it was about 1 metre."
 

 

 

Date created : 2011-05-22

  • ICELAND

    Smoke and ash spew from Iceland volcano

    Read more

COMMENT(S)