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In PHOTOS: Ash cloud back to haunt UK airspace

Last updated on: May 24, 2011 14:15 IST

In PHOTOS: Ash cloud back to haunt UK airspace

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A plume of ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano headed for Britain on Tuesday, forcing flight cancellations and a change in United States President Barack Obama's travel plans.

The eruption of Grimsvoetn has raised concerns over a repeat of last year's travel chaos sparked by the eruption of another Icelandic volcano -- Eyjafjallajokull -- which led to the biggest shutdown of European airspace since World War II.

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Image: A plane flies past smoke plume from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland
Photographs: Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters
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Volcanic ash alters Obama's travel plans

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Obama will travel from Ireland to London late on Tuesday night to avoid the ash cloud that is expected to affect flight travel around Britain.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said, "Due to a recent change in the trajectory in the plume of volcanic ash, Air Force One will depart Ireland for London on Tuesday night. The schedule for tomorrow will proceed as planned."

Image: Smoke rises from the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier
Photographs: Jon Gustafsson/Reuters
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Scottish flights disrupted by ash plume

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Flights in Scotland have already been cancelled as the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland heads towards the United Kingdom.

Scotland's Loganair announced that all flights will be cancelled on Tuesday due to forecasts that indicate "a high density of ash will be present in large parts of Scottish airspace."
 


Image: Smoke plume rises from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano
Photographs: Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters
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'Britain better prepared that last year'

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Andrew Haines, chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said he hoped to avoid a repeat of last year's travel chaos, but he admitted it was still unclear how badly flights would be affected.

He said, "We know so much more about the volcanoes. We have an improved model. We have better measuring equipment and we have better relationships with airlines so it should be much better but we're still at the hands of both the weather and the volcano; those are the two uncertainties."


Image: Picture shows the growing ash plume from the Grimsvotn volcano
Photographs: Ingolfur Bruun/Reuters
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First English flights cancelled on Tuesday morning

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Reports of cancellations at airports in Britain are also coming in. The first flight cancellations have hit English airports. Dutch airline KLM and British carrier Eastern Airways announced that scheduled flights from Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley airports would remain grounded on Tuesday morning after the eruption of the Gr msv tn volcano in Iceland, reports the Telegraph, UK.

According to the BBC, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Easyjet are among other the airlines that chose to suspend services in and out of Scotland on Tuesday.


Image: Ash plume from the Gr msvotn volcano as seen on Monday
Photographs: Reuters
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Hundreds of passengers stranded in Britain

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Around 400 passengers were stranded at Edinburgh airport on Monday night due to disruptions in flight schedules. But Ryanair has objected to an order from Irish officials to ground its morning flights to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen on safety grounds.

Ryanair said it would be complaining about the "unnecessary cancellations".


Image: An ash sample awaits examination at the command centre in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, as authorities prepare to deal with the effects of a volcano eruption
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Flight cancellations a big blow after severe storm hit road, rail traffic

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The cancellations follow severe storms which have also affected road and rail travel across Scotland. Hundreds of engineers have also been out working to restore power to homes, reports the BBC.

Image: -Emergency workers carry supplies at the Geirland farm near Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Volcanic ash heading for England

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According to Britain's metrological department, the cloud will have swept south, covering most of England and Wales with low concentrations of ash by Tuesday. Medium concentrations of ash -- the level where aircraft need permission to fly from CAA -- may affect Newcastle airport.


Image: A car is seen through a cloud of ash at the Geirland farm near Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Pilots express concern over ash

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Pilots unions, however, expressed concerns that the ash could still be dangerous. "Due to predictions on the movement of the volcanic ash, we are anticipating the cancellation of Flights and disruption to many more services," a spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said.


Image: Emergency workers carry supliesat from a vehicle the Geirland farm near
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Newcastle, Glasgow airports likely to be hit

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The whole of Scotland was forecast to be covered by a 'high concentration' of ash by Tuesday morning. Airports in Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast could all be hit, the Daily Mail reported.


Image: Emergency personnel work at the temporally headquarters at the Geirland farm
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Denmark first country after Iceland to shut airspace

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Denmark was the first country besides Iceland to close any airspace after the Grimsvoetn volcano began erupting late Saturday, but European aviation authorities have been closely monitoring the giant column of ash.

A portion of the airspace over Denmark's autonomous territory Greenland continued to remain closed due to ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano, Danish air traffic control officials said.

Image: heep are seen at a farm during the ash fallout in Mulakot, Iceland
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Iceland's main airport reopens

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Iceland's main airport, Keflavik, and domestic airport Reykjavik both reopened Monday after being closed for almost 36 hours.

People living next to the glacier where the Grimsvotn volcano burst into life on Saturday were most affected, with ash shutting out the daylight and smothering buildings and vehicles.


Image: -A farmer's son prepares to herd the farm's sheep indoors to shelter from the ash fallout
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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Asian carriers have all eyes on volcanic ash

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International air carriers were also carefully monitoring the situation. In Asia, Air China said it had suspended flights to Stockholm but that all other European routes were operating normally.

Other Asia-Pacific airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Singapore Airlines reported no disruption so far.


Image: A dead bird lies on Higway One near the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur in southeast Iceland
Photographs: Ingolfur Juliusson/Reuters
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'Coarse ash from volcano may not travel far'

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Two days after the eruption of the Grimsvoetn volcano forced Iceland to shut its airspace, experts point out that the ash from the ongoing eruption appears coarser than the very fine ash from last year's blast, and should therefore not travel as far.

Image: Footprints are seen on a surface of ash outside a gas station in Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Photographs: Reuters
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Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption led to 1,00,000 flight cancellations

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During last year's eruption of the neighbouring Eyjafjallajokull volcano, more than 1,00,000 flights were cancelled and eight million passengers stranded, dealing a harsh blow to the airline industry, particularly in Europe.

The threat of a repeat sent airline shares across the continent tumbling on Monday, with German Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, British Airways and Scandinavian airline SAS all seeing falls of around three to four per cent.

Image: A car drives at highway one, immersed in darkness due to ash fallout, outside the small town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Photographs: Reuters
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Grimsvoetn stronger than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano

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Grimsvoetn eruptions have had brief explosive stages, with the intensity usually subsiding significantly within a few days.

In fact, it is the most powerful eruption in more than a century from the volcano -- located at the heart of the country's biggest glacier, Vatnajoekull in southeastern Iceland -- with its plume initially reaching a height of 20 kilometres.

On Monday, the plume stood at around 10 kilometres, slightly above the peak of last year's eruption ash column from Eyjafjallajokull.

The outburst is the volcano's most powerful since 1873 and stronger than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which caused trouble last year, but scientists say the type of ash being spat out is less easily dispersed and winds have so far been more favourable.

 


Image: Ash is seen creeping into the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur
Photographs: Reuters
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