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As Iceland Volcano Eruption Ends, German Airports Reopen

In this image from television, people watch a plume rising from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland, May 25 2011

The ash cloud from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano forced the brief closure of several German airports Wednesday, even as the volcanic eruption appears to have died down and is no longer spewing out ash.

German authorities now say the airports in Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin have reopened or are in the process of doing so.

The Grimsvotn volcano, the most active in Iceland, begun erupting on Saturday, sending a plume of smoke and ash 20 kilometers into the sky.

On Tuesday, some 500 flights were grounded across northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as the ash cloud drifted by, but British airspace was reported clear Wednesday morning.

Last year's eruption of a different volcano on Iceland forced 100,000 flights to be cancelled, wrecking travel plans for more than 8 million passengers and costing airlines nearly $2 billion in losses.

This year, rather than closing down large swaths of airspace, European aviation authorities are giving individual airlines the freedom to choose whether to cancel flights.

Experts warn that flying into a volcanic ash cloud could damage jets and cause engines to stall in mid-air.

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