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Iceland closes main airport but ash cloud 'not heading to Europe'

Keflavik airport is fully closed with no flights taking off or landing as the ash plume covers Iceland but officials insist its not Europe-bound.

Smoke plumes from the volcano on Saturday
Smoke plumes from the volcano on Saturday
Image: Jon Gustafsson/AP/Press Association Images

ICELAND HAS CLOSED its main international airport and canceled domestic flights today as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles into the air.

Airport and air traffic control operator ISAVIA said Keflavik airport was closed at 8.30am GMT and no flights were taking off or landing.

Spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said the ash plume was covering Iceland, but:

The good news is that it is not heading to Europe.

She said the ash was blowing northwest toward Greenland instead and that officials were investigating whether Iceland’s other airports could take Keflavik-bound flights.

Trans-Atlantic flights were being diverted away from Iceland, and there was no sign yet that the eruption would cause the widespread travel disruption triggered last year by ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

In April 2010, officials closed the continent’s air space for five days, fearing the ash could harm jet engines. Some 10 million travelers were stranded.

The Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier about 120 miles (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Reykjavik, began erupting on Saturday for the first time since 2004.

- AP

Previous: The bluffer’s guide to… Vatnajokull and Grimsvotn >

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Hugh O'Connell

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