Volcanic ash cloud hampers Ethiopian flights


Posted on June 14, 2011 14:37

Ethiopian airlines on Tuesday announced that ash clouds from a volcanic eruption on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, late Sunday, is disrupting flights in parts of the Eastern African region.

The Ethiopian national carrier has announced that flights to neighboring countries, including Sudan and Djibouti, have been affected by the volcanic ash clouds.

Other airlines have said that they are paying close attention to the spread of the ash cloud.

The eruption of Eritrea’s Dubbi volcano at around 11pm local time on Sunday after a series of earthquakes hit the Afambo area in Eritrea – an area where such occurrences were thought to be dormant, is “significant,” says John Nicolau, from Météo France which hosts the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC) for both Southern Europe and Eastern Africa.

Based on satellite images, Méteo France reported that, ash cloud had risen to around 15000 metres by Tuesday afternoon amid reports that the eruptions were winding down.

However, the agency has insisted that the situation is not as critical as last year’s Icelandic volcano eruptions, which involved an area of high air traffic, as East Africa does not have a high level of air traffic.

Monday, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who was scheduled to visit various US government funded projects in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, was forced to suspend her three day stay in Ethiopia after it was reported that the ash cloud might hamper flights from the region.

It was also reported that the problem had affected domestic flights to Mekelle, in Northern Ethiopia, which is close to the volcano hit area.

On Monday, reports indicated that Mekelle, located some 770 kilometers North of Addis Ababa, had witnessed a muddy rain as a result of the ash cloud.

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