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May 21, 2011

Iceland Closes Main Airport After Volcanic Eruption

Aviation authorities in Iceland said Sunday that they have shut down the island's main airport and may have to close the island's other airports after the country's most active volcano began erupting Saturday.

However, scientists say the eruptions are unlikely to cause the same disruption to European air travel as another volcano that exploded last year.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office says the Grimsvotn volcano beneath island's largest glacier has been shooting plumes of smoke at least 11 kilometers into the air since Saturday.

The area surrounding the Vatnajokull glacier in southeastern Iceland is uninhabited.

Grimsvotn last erupted in 2004. Icelandic scientists say they expect the latest explosion to be relatively small. A team of experts was flying to the area to investigate.

The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano in April 2010 produced an ash cloud that winds blew toward northern Europe, causing airports in the region to ground all planes for several days as a safety precaution. Millions of air travelers were stranded worldwide.