News / Europe

Iceland's Volcanic Ash Prompts Flight Cancelations

Smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of Rejkjavik, May 23, 2011
Smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of Rejkjavik, May 23, 2011

Ash from a volcano erupting in Iceland has caused some airlines to cancel flights over parts of Europe.

The European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said Tuesday about 250 flights have been cancelled, as the ash cloud from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano moves across British airspace.

The ash has disrupted flights to Scotland and northern Britain on several carriers, including British Airways, Dutch carrier KLM, Easyjet and several regional airlines.

Norway's airport operator said Tuesday it has halted traffic at two airports after the ash cloud reached the southwestern part of the country.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the volcano, which lies beneath the island's largest glacier, continued to shoot plumes of smoke up to nine kilometers into the air.  Officials said the eruption has eased since it first began on Saturday.

Forecasters are uncertain of the path of the ash cloud as it drifts across the continent, but they say the cloud could travel as far as Scandinavia, western France and Spain by later this week.

But experts say the impact of the eruption will be far less severe than last year's eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano.

The eruption of the 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.  Around 100,000 flights were cancelled, and at least 8 million passengers were stranded worldwide.

Grimsvotn last erupted in 2004.

Iceland reopened its airports late Monday, after they were closed Sunday because of ash concerns.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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