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Volcanic fallout turns UK into no-fly zone

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 15 April 2010

As a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland drifts across northern Europe, no commercial air traffic has moved over the UK since noon - and airports may remain closed for two days.

Stranded passegers (Reuters)

Shortly before 1430 hours Nats extended the airspace closure until tomorrow morning.

In a statement, the company said the cloud of colvanic ash had now spread across the UK and was continuing to travel south.

It added: "In line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are currently permitted in UK controlled airspace.

"Following a review of the latest Met Office information, Nats advises that these restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 1pm tomorrow at the earliest."

Nats said no flight would be allowed to fly in or out of UK airspace due to the fear of engine failure caused by the ash from the eruption under a glacier in the Eyjafjallajoekull area of Iceland.

The move is likely to mean travel chaos for tens of thousands of air passengers due to fly today and tomorrow morning.

Forecasters have warned that the ash is likely to hit flights out of other European countries.

Ireland has also suspended all flights from its airports.Services to Norway, Finland and France have also been hit.

All Scottish Airports, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow were shut this morning, along with Newcastle and Belfast airports.

BAA had also announced it would shut Heathrow and Stansted from midday.

Heathrow usually has 1,300 flights a day.

Gatwick Airport, which had been due to host 679 flights carrying 80,000 passengers, also suspended its flights.

Aerial footage dozens of planes all parked up at the terminals.

Ryanair said none of their planes would fly today and British Airways called a halt to all domestic departures.

The restrictions were imposed in accordance with international civil aviation policy after the Met Office warned ash could clog engines.

Passengers have been advised to contact their carriers prior to travel.

Volcanic ash cloud spreads to UK and northern Europe
- Expert says no health threat to UK population...yet

Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupting yesterday - Pictures: Icelandic Coast Guard

The plume of volcanic ash comes from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which erupted on 20 March after almost 200 years of silence.

Experts say tiny particles of rock, glass and sand contained in the ash cloud could jam aircraft engines.

Forecasters believe the ash could take days to disperse. Matt Dobson, a MeteoGroup forecaster said: "The concern is that as well as the eruption, the jet stream passing through Iceland is passing in a south easterly direction, which will bring ash to the north of Scotland and Denmark and Norway. But it is impossible to say how much ash will come down.

"It could be a threat in these areas from now until tomorrow or Friday."

The National Air Traffic Service spokesman said: "The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre has issued a forecast that the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption in Iceland will track over Europe tonight.

"NATS is working with Eurocontrol and our colleagues in Europe's other air navigation service providers to take the appropriate action to ensure safety in accordance with international aviation policy."

Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupting yesterday - Pictures: Icelandic Coast Guard

Hundreds of people in Iceland had been evacuated from their homes yesterday, amid fears of a second volcanic eruption.

Rognvaldur Olafsson, a chief inspector for the Icelandic agency, said some 800 people near the Eyjafjallajokull volcano were evacuated after reports of seismic activity suggested it may have erupted for the second time.

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