Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ash grounds 252 flights, may cancel 500 more

An image released by the Nasa Earth Observatory on May 24, 2011 and captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA?s Terra satellite at 13:00 UTC (1:00 p.m. local time) on May 22, 2011 shows the ash column billowing from the Grimsvoetn volcano. -- PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS - EUROPEAN air traffic controllers said on Tuesday morning that 252 flights had been cancelled and a further 500 could be cancelled as a volcanic ash cloud covered Scotland and Northern Ireland.

'Most airlines have cancelled flights today - 252 flights,' said Brian Flynn, head of operations at the Brussels-based Eurocontrol via Twitter. 'Parts of ashcloud to cover Scotland and Northern Ireland today.'

The eruption of the Grimsvoetn volcano in Iceland forced US President Barack Obama the previous day to revise travel plans for a state visit to Britain and threatens to affect Barcelona's preparations for Saturday's Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London.

Mr Flynn warned that the ash cloud 'will continue possibly southwards to France and Spain but hard to say now because (weather) forecasts are not precise for the end of the week.'

He said that by the end of the day, the cloud 'will cover southern parts of Scandinavia, Denmark and northern parts of Germany possibly.'

This raised the prospect of major travel disruption across Europe due to Icelandic volcanic eruption for the second time in little over a year. -- AFP, AP

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