Volcano halts air traffic

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Norwegian aviation officials closed the country’s air space on Thursday, after an enormous cloud of ash drifted closer from the latest volcanic eruption on Iceland. By mid-morning, most all flights were cancelled as air space over Oslo also closed.

Smoke billows from a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull

Avinor, Norway’s civilian aviation authority, started closing air space north of Bodø Wednesday night. By early Thursday, only one route between Oslo and Trondheim on the eastern side of the country was operating.

“We’re taking precautions,” Sindre Ånonsen of Avinor told newspaper Aftenposten.  The ash and particles from the volcano “aren’t good” for aircraft engines, Jo Kobro, spokesman for Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

All flights from Oslo to western, southern and northern Norway were grounded Thursday morning and air space over Oslo closed at 10am. Some international flights heading south had still been running, but traffic was halted mid-morning. Kobro urged passengers to stay in touch with their airlines for more information.

Air space over Scotland, England and northern Sweden was also closed as the volcanic debris was carried by strong winds in an easterly direction. Avinor officials said it wasn’t possible to predict how long air traffic would be disrupted.

The latest volcanic eruption on Iceland occurred Wednesday under the glacier known as Eyjafjallajokull. The glacier started melting, setting off a flood that resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of persons in the area.

The eruption stranded, among others, Norway’s ambassador to Iceland, Margit Tveiten, and the head of Norway’s mountain trekking association, Kristin Krohn Devold, a former Norwegian defense minister. They were attending a meeting at a remote location in the area and had to be evacuated themselves.

 Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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