mc_squared Posted April 15, 2010 Share Posted April 15, 2010 Britain cut off from the world: NO flights in or out of UK as ash from Icelandic volcano leaves thousands stranded By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 11:10 AM on 15th April 2010 Comments (249) Add to My Stories British airspace to close from 12pm todayPassengers flying from Heathrow and Stansted after noon advised not to turn upAirports already closed: Aberdeen, Belfast City, Belfast International, Edinburgh, Inverness, Liverpool, Manchester and NewcastleAsh could take days to disperse All British airports will be closed from 12pm today as vast plumes of volcanic ash from Iceland forced the cancellation of thousands of flights. In an unprecedented move which will leave hundreds of thousands of travellers stranded, British airspace will not reopen until at least 6pm. The disruption will have a devastating impact on families returning from the Easter holidays who were due to fly back to Britain this weekend. Chaos: Manchester was one of the first English airports to close after the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland hit British airspace Lockdown: Passengers at Glasgow airport wait for news after all flights in Scottish airspace were grounded this morning The complete paralysis of the UK network has echoes of September 11 when airspace over the States was shut down for days. FLIGHTS IN EUROPE ALSO DISRUPTED Flights have also been disrupted in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Finland. Finnair said air traffic had been shut down in northern parts of Finland, while air traffic has been suspended in northern Sweden. Jan Lindqvist, a spokesman for Arlanda airport in Stockholm said all transatlantic flights there were taking a longer route south to avoid the ash. Oslo airport has shut and Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja - who had planned to fly to Copenhagen in Denmark today for the Danish queen's 70th birthday - were looking to take a 'car, boat or train' after the Norwegian airport operator Avinor said it was closing. Cohenhagen airport is reporting severe disruptions. The Danish part of North Sea air space is closed, Danish air traffic controller Navair said, with further sectors of air space expected to be closed throughout the day as the ash cloud moves across the country. Ryanair said it would try to operate some flights out of southern Ireland today. The national carrier, Aer Lingus, canceled at least 40 flights in or out of Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast. A spokesman for Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport said about 40 inbound and outbound flights had been canceled, mainly from Britain, Scandinavia and Russia. A spokesman for the National Air Traffic Service said: 'From midday today until at least 6pm, there will be no flights permitted in UK controlled airspace other than emergency situations. 'This has been applied in accordance with international civil aviation policy. 'We continue to monitor the situation with the Met Office and work closely with airline customers and adjoining countries.' Air traffic controllers were forced to shut British airspace after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland yesterday spewed massive clouds of ash thousands of feet into the sky. It is the second time the volcano has erupted in a month. But the second explosion was 10 to 20 times more powerful than the one on March 20. Eyjafjallajokull had previously been silent for almost 200 years. Scottish passengers were the first to feel the impact of the eruption this morning as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports were closed this morning. Christine Campbell, 55, was at Glasgow Airport to fly to La Rochelle, in France, for her son's wedding. She said: 'When we arrived we were told there were no flights going out today and to go home. But I wanted to come and wait anyway because I didn't want to miss anything. 'I'm really disappointed and upset because I've been looking forward to this wedding for two years and at the last minute there's this hiccup.' She was planning to try to get a train to London and then travel to France by Eurostar. Ann Cochrane, 58, a market researcher originally from Beith in Ayrshire, was trying to get home to Toronto where she now lives. She said: 'I think I might cry. I just wish I was on a beach in Mexico. We took a cab at 7.30am this morning and they told us about what was going on and said we should go home. 'It's not so bad for us because we're only down the road so we will just hire a car for another day, but other people live hours away.' A critically ill patient had to be flown from Scotland to London by military helicopter - the only aircraft suitable to make the journey. The woman was taken by ambulance from hospital in Dunfermline, Fife, to HMS Gannet at Prestwick. From there a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter flew her to London, landing in Regent's Park at around 9am. An ambulance then took her to University College Hospital. Snapshot: A radar image of air traffic above Europe taken at 10am today shows empty skies over much of Britain. Flights continue as normal on the continent Ash cloud: The volcano has pumped the plume of thick smoke over Britain, throwing all airports into chaos DEMAND FOR EUROSTAR TICKETS SOARS Eurostar reported a huge increase in sales calls this morning as passengers struggled to rearrange their travel plans. Many fares had already sold out by 9.30am this morning, while prices shot up the fewer tickets became available. While passengers can normally find return tickets to Paris or Brussels costing just £69, a single to travel from those cities today would cost at least £220 and up to £307. A single from Lille to London would cost around £185 to travel today. A spokeswoman for Eurostar said they had received hundreds of calls from passengers, particularly in Scotland, who were fighting to rearrange their travel plans. Many more had logged on to their website. She said: 'At this time of year, our services are busy with people getting away for spring breaks. So by mid-afternoon, we expect many of our trains to be full.' But she said Eurostar prices rise the closer to departure that you book, and depends on availability. 'We don't just put prices up because something like this has happened. Prices are high because it is close to the weekend.' Matt Dobson, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said ash would come down in Scotland, Denmark and Norway and could continue to affect airspace until Friday. It cannot be seen from the ground as it blowing across Britain around three miles in the sky. Ash can disrupt the engines of an aircraft and reduce visibility as well as affecting landing and navigation gear. However, the substance does have one plus - for most people it will just mean a spectacular red sunset. This morning a Heathrow Airport spokesman said 150 flights, both arrivals and departures, had been cancelled - at the busiest time of the day - and more flights were expected to be affected as the cloud of ash moved south. The spokesman said all of the airport's domestic flights had been cancelled, as well as flights to and from Scandinavia and all U.S. arrivals that had not yet departed. At Gatwick, 108 flights have been cancelled, while at least 17 flights are grounded at Stansted. Birmingham airport has seen 70 flights cancelled, while Bristol has halted around 20 flights. Passengers are being advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport. The volcanic ash scare also caused Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable to cancel planned General Election campaign visits to Dunfermline and Edinburgh today, the party said. Thousands of passengers in Northern Ireland were also caught up in the air chaos, with the closure of Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport. Crowds who filled departures lounges for early morning flights to destinations throughout the UK were told services had been cancelled indefinitely. Flight Sergeant Andy Carnell, a spokesman for RAF Search and Rescue, said that their aircraft would continue to fly. He said: "We will continue to provide full search and rescue cover, however we will consider all requests we get on a case by case basis A spokesman for BAA Airports said this morning: 'Following advice from the Met Office, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) has introduced restrictions to UK airspace this morning as a result of volcanic ash drifting across the UK from Iceland. 'Passengers intending to fly today are asked to contact their airline for further information and should expect disruption in the coming hours.' A spokeswoman for the Aberdeen airport said last night: 'The closure will come into effect locally at midnight and may also spread to other parts of Scotland. Travel chaos: A passenger posted a picture of Dublin Airport this morning on Twitter after volcanic ash disrupted hundreds of flights DEADLY ERUPTIONS THAT CAN BRING A PLANE DOWN The volcano in Iceland yesterday spewed ash over 10,000ft into the sky, causing a deadly hazard to pilots. The eruption was believed to be 10 to 20 times more powerful than a similar one that shook Iceland last month. The plume of ash is currently moving towards the UK and covers a wide area over the North Atlantic. It can affect aircraft flying between 5,000ft and 35,000ft. It is moving south west at a rate of 20 knots and will reach the skies over the UK later today. The cloud will eventually push into Europe, and is likely to cause even more widespread cancellations and delays at airports. Volcanic ash is abrasive and dangerous for aircraft. It reduces visibility, causes damage to fuel and water systems and can clog engines causing them to fail. It can also affect landing gear. One of the biggest difficulties facing flight crews is the problem of distinguishing ash clouds from ordinary clouds, both visually and on radar. In June 1982, a British Airways Boeing 747 jumbo jet flight from Heathrow to Auckland flew into a cloud of volcanic ash from Mount Galunggung in Java, Indonesia. It didn't show up on the plane's weather radar because it was 'dry ash'. The ash caused all four engines to stop and the plane rapidly fell from 36,000ft to 12,000ft. Luckily the drop caused the ash to solidify and break off which cleared the engines and allowed the crew to restart them. Another 20 aircraft were damaged by the ash cloud from the June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. The cloud travelled more than 5,000 miles to the east coast of Africa. A Met Office spokesman told Mail Online: 'There is uncertainty about the amount of ash released in the eruption, but it is thought that it will only affect aviation. There is no suggestion there will be any ash falling from the sky.' The Met Office runs the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre that monitors and forecasts the movement of volcanic ash over the UK. 'It has been ordered by the air traffic control service Nats - as a result of volcanic ash which is drifting towards the country from Iceland.' Airlines also issued warnings of potential disruption. A spokeswoman for easyJet said: 'Following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland earlier today, the Met Office have advised airlines that the ash plume may reach UK air space overnight. 'As a result this may cause significant disruption to flights departing the UK tomorrow. 'easyJet passengers are advised to check the website before they leave for the airport for any disruption information.' The chaos comes after the volcano, which is under a glacier, erupted for the second time in less than a month - causing hundreds of people to flee the rising floodwaters. Emergency workers rescued scores of tourists from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as it spewed smoke and steam. Around 800 residents had to be evacuated from their homes. Rivers rose by up to ten feet (three metres) as the ferocious temperatures melted the glacier, turning it to water, which gushed down the mountainside. Iceland's main coastal ring road was closed near the volcano, and workers smashed three holes in the highway in a bid to to give the rushing water a clear route to the coast and prevent bridges from being swept away. Scientists said the eruption under the ice cap was ten to 20 times more powerful than the one last month, and carried a much greater risk of widespread flooding. 'This is a very much more violent eruption, because it's interacting with ice and water,' said Andy Russell, an expert in glacial flooding at the UK's University of Newcastle. 'It becomes much more explosive, instead of a nice lava flow oozing out of the ground.' Civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said emergency workers rescued some 70 tourists and visitors trapped near the volcano since this morning. He said the party was now safe in a tourist facility and officials were trying to transport them out of the area. No lives or properties were in immediate danger, Gylfason said and scientists added that there was no sign of increased activity at the much larger Katla volcano nearby. Iceland's Meteorological Office said a plume of steam rose at least five miles (eight kilometers) into the air. Scientists aboard a coastguard plane that flew over the volcano said the new fissure appeared to be up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) long. There were no immediate signs of large clouds of volcanic ash, which could disrupt air travel between Europe and North America. Some domestic flights were canceled, but Iceland's international airport remained open. The volcano, about 75 miles (120 kilometres) east of Reykjavik, first erupted on March 20 after almost 200 years of silence, and petered out earlier this week. Quiet: An air traffic controller posts a screenshot of his equipment, showing the flights over the UK at 7am this morning. He said it shows 'the lack of air traffic over the UK due to volcanic ash' But Gunnar Gudmundsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said there were a series of tremors overnight, and rivers in the area began rising Wednesday morning - strong evidence of a new eruption under the glacier. Last month's eruption struck near the glacier in an area that had no ice. Gudmundsson said the new eruption appeared to be about eight or nine kilometers (five to six miles) west of the original fissure. 'Most probably this eruption is taking place at the summit ... under the ice,' he said. Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said magma was melting a hole in the 650-foot (200 metre) thick ice covering the volcano's crater, sending floodwater coursing down the glacier into lowland areas. Residents were evacuated to a Red Cross centre in the nearby community of Hvolsvollur, the Civil Protection Department said. Iceland, a nation of 320,000 people, sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic's mid-oceanic ridge. Volcanic eruptions are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth's plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface. The last time there was an eruption near the 100-square-mile (160 square-kilometre) Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821. A bigger worry is Katla, which in the past has erupted in tandem with Eyjafjallajokull. Katla is located under the vast Myrdalsjokull ice cap. An eruption could cause widespread flooding and disrupt air traffic between Europe and North America. The last major eruption took place in 1918, and volcanologists say a new blast is overdue. 'So far there have been no signs of the reawakening of the Katla volcano, but a lot of things can still happen, so we are monitoring it quite closely,' Einarsson said. 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