A giant drifting plume of volcanic ash from Iceland’s active volcano is disrupting air traffic across northern Europe.
In the UK all airports in Scotland are closed and services from Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool, Stansted, Newcastle and Birmingham have been grounded. London’s Gatwick and Heathrow are also hit.
The volcanic smoke and steam emanating from below Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier prompted
air traffic controllers to impose restrictions.
Meteorologists are forecasting that the ash cloud will track over Europe tonight.
Air traffic in northern Sweden has been suspended. Kamilla Hvidsten is stranded at Norway’s Oslo airport.
“This is totally surreal. I’m of course very sad that my plane is cancelled,” she said. “But at the same time there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s impossible to predict stuff like this. This is just plain weird. It makes me almost laugh out loud.”
One (unnamed) puzzled passenger from Scotland thought it was all a joke.
He said: “It’s quite bizarre actually. It’s something that only happens once in a lifetime. I actually thought it was a belated April Fools’ Day joke actually. I couldn’t really believe it but then obviously, as I got here to the airport, it was all quite official.”
Aviation experts say tiny particles of rock, glass and sand in the ash cloud can melt in the heat of an aircraft engine and then solidify jamming the mechanics.