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Experts play down volcano health risk

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Experts play down volcano health risk


Iceland’s erupting volcano shows no signs of immediately abating but experts are playing down the health risks of an ash fallout over Europe.

Despite the activity causing chaos to air travel, volcanologists say what is happening is relatively small.

Professor of Geophysics at University College London Peter Sammonds: ‘‘In vulcanological terms this is not a big eruption. It’s not even a particularly big eruption in Iceland. The Hekla eruption in 2000 was substantially bigger. We give these things a volcanic index, and that eruption was about three. For this one, certainly we’re at about one.’‘

Hot fumes are melting vast amounts of ice at the glacier the volcano lies under. Scientists say that is exacerbating the ash cloud.

‘‘What is different about it is that it’s erupting through an ice cap. This is generating lots of melted water which is causing all this glassy material, which is being ejected high up into the atmosphere,’‘ Professor Sammonds added.

To the east of the volcano, large swathes of land have been covered by a thick layer of ash. The sun has also been blotted out in some areas along Iceland’s southern coast.

Around 700 people were evacuated on Wednesday. They are reported to be sheltered at Red Cross centres nearby.

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