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Tuesday 23rd September 2014
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Iceland Volcano: Airlines On Ash Cloud Alert

Friday, 29th August 2014 08:15

Iceland has told airlines to be vigilant following a volcanic eruption near the Dyngjujokull glacier just after midnight.

An orange alert warning issued by the Icelandic Met Office indicates that the Bardarbunga volcano "shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption".

After cancelling a red alert earlier, Iceland's Air Traffic Control has now completely lifted flight restrictions which stopped planes from flying below 18,000ft.

The eruption, which took place approximately five miles north of Bardarbunga, follows a fortnight of earthquakes throughout the area.

Martin Hensch, a seismologist with the Met Office, told Sky News: "The most powerful phase of the eruption is already over. It was at its most powerful between 12.20am and 2.30am, with volcanic activity peaking shortly before 1am.

"We are still seeing slight volcanic tremors, but at the moment, there is no major concern, as there have been no changes since 3am."

Mr Hensch said there was no evidence for the emission of ash into the atmosphere so far, adding that airspace would have been restricted to 50,000ft or higher if that was the case.

"There is no immediate danger to flight traffic or the aviation industry. What we are monitoring closely is how these things develop," he added.

The development of an ash cloud in Iceland could be disastrous for the aviation industry and cause widespread disruption for travellers.

In 2010, an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano left vast swathes of European airspace closed for six days.

There have been fears that insurers may not pay claims related to future ash cloud disruption, on the basis that repeated warnings from the Icelandic Met Office make it a "known event".