Iceland volcano ash disrupts air traffic

Thursday, April 15, 2010

OSLO/LONDON - Air traffic in several northern European countries including Britain, Norway and Sweden was disrupted Thursday due to ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland.

Drifting ash from the volcano near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier, about 120 km east of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, poses a threat to jet engines.

About half the flights from Norway’s main airport at Oslo were cancelled Thursday and more sections of the airspace in northern Norway were closed, officials said, advising passengers to check if their flights were operating or not.

Delays were also reported for intercontinental flights as planes over the area affected by the drifting ash were re-routed.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who earlier this week attended a summit in the US on nuclear safety, was reported to be stranded at Newark airport near New York.

Three airports in northern Sweden were also closed.

Earlier, British airport authorities closed down the airspace over Scotland, as ash drifted across the region, the Press Association reported.

“Following advice from the Met Office, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) has introduced restrictions to UK airspace this morning as a result of volcanic ash drifting across the United Kingdom from Iceland,” a spokeswoman for London’s Stansted Airport said.

These measures currently affect Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, which are closed, but may also affect other parts of Britain later Thursday, she added.

The decision followed similar measures taken in Iceland and Norway Wednesday.

Officials in Reykjavik said that flight bans could also be expected in large parts of Sweden, Finland and regions in north-western Russia as well as in Denmark.

Some 700 people were ordered to leave their homes near the volcano following a series of tremors earlier this week. A plume of smoke and ash several kilometres high was spotted from the volcano, which had previously erupted last month.

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