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Sun 22 May 2011 02:38 PM

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Icelandic volcano erupts forcing flights to divert

No-fly zone put in place around volcano as smoke and ash plume rises 50,000ft up

Icelandic volcano erupts forcing flights to divert
Volcanic eruption in Iceland, May 22, 2011

A volcanic eruption in Iceland, underneath Europe’s largest
glacier, forced international flights to divert south of the north Atlantic
island as an ash plume rose to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).

“A no-fly zone which covers a 120 nautical mile radius
around the eruption has been put in place,” Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, spokeswoman
for Isavia Ltd., told Icelandic broadcaster RUV late yesterday. “The eruption
might have some impact on international air traffic.”

Isavia operates air
traffic control for Iceland’s airspace.

The eruption begun at about 6pm yesterday in a crater
underneath Vatnajokull Glacier, about 145km southeast of
Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik. The volcano is the most active in Iceland and
its last eruption ended in 2004.

“The ash is very fine and is now drifting to the southeast,”
Iceland’s Civil Protection Department said in a statement on its website.

An eruption in Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull in April of last
year grounded 100,000 flights in the first six days, costing airlines $1.7bn in lost sales, according to industry figures.

Further bursts of ash closed airspace across a wide area of Europe,
raising concern that the event might mirror the last one in 1821, when the
crater remained active for more than a year.

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