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Air routes still open as volcano wakes in Iceland

Ash from volcanic eruption in Iceland spreads south, but experts hope the impact on air travel will be limited.

Ash from a massive plume of smoke from an eruption of Iceland’s most active volcano could spread south to parts of Europe next week, but experts yesterday still hoped the impact on air travel would be limited.

The eruption at Grimsvotn has so far hit only Iceland, which closed its international airspace. A thick cloud of ash blocked out the daylight at towns and villages at the foot of the glacier where the volcano lies and covered cars and buildings.

The eruption is much stronger than at a volcano further south last year which closed European airspace for six days.

Airlines were told yesterday during a conference call with weather experts and officials responsible for European airspace to brace for a possible further spread of ash later in the week.

Others said the impact on air travel this time was set to be more limited as winds were more favorable, the content of the plume was heavier and less likely to spread and authorities now had a higher tolerance for ash levels, they said.

“It could lead to some disruption, but only for a very limited time and only over a very limited area,” said University of Iceland professor of geophysics Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson.

Ash could hit Scotland tomorrow

Ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano could reach northern Scot­land by tomorrow and parts of Britain, France and Spain by Thursday or Friday if the erupt­ion continues at the same intensity, airlines were warned yesterday.

The warning is based on the latest five-day weather forecasts, but is being treated cautiously because of uncertainties over the way the volcano will behave and interact with the weather.

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