Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 15:22 UK

Iceland volcano as it happened: 17 April

Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland (16 April 2010)

Welcome to our live coverage of the volcanic ash cloud over northern Europe. This live page will update through the day. Please refresh for the latest news, analysis and advice from experts and BBC correspondents. All times are in BST.

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1800 The BBC is discontinuing this live update page for today. Live updates will resume on Sunday morning. In the meantime, for the latest developments, please go to our main news page.

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1755 Mike Gore e-mails from Redditch: "We have just arrived home after a 2,000 euro ($2,700, £1,760) taxi ride from Courchevel in the French Alps. We are five adults and three young children.

"It was a tough decision to outlay the extra cash, which cannot be recovered from insurance, but with deteriorating prospects of a flight home any time soon and the cost of hotels in France, we are just relieved to be home having a nice cuppa.

"The taxi driver, Matt, has still got to get back and explain to his wife, as the fare was originally only to Geneva Airport."

1745 The disruption means many world leaders remain unsure about whether they will be at Sunday's funeral of President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash last week.

US President Barack Obama is among those who have said they cannot now attend, while some European leaders are making the journey overland.

A final decision on whether the Prince of Wales will be able to represent the Queen at the ceremony will be made on Sunday.


1720 A fair few volcano jokes are making the rounds on Twitter. Daveip1966 tweets one of the more repeatable ones: "Last time you Poms got the Ashes you were over the moon. There's no pleasing some people."

Malcolm Brabant

1715 The BBC's Malcolm Brabant at Athens Airport says: "After delighting audiences in Toyko, Seoul and Manila with their angelic voices, the 23 boys of the Libera school choir from South London have come down with a bump in the Greek capital, Athens.

"After a fourteen hour flight from Manila, the boys, aged seven to 15, and their chaperones, found that they were stranded and likely to miss important exams back in Britain on Monday.

"Robert Prizeman, the group's head, said they may travel by coach as the earliest time they had been given for flights was Friday."

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1710 Bent Marinosson in Iceland e-mails:

"Today I went to the Hvolsvollur, the town nearest to the volcano. There is a roadblock and you can't go any further unless you live beyond that town.

"The authorities are expecting floods and are putting up protection. There is a lot of wind from the north which means the ash will get blown south rather than the usual south-westerly direction. I'm planning to go back later today with a friend who lives past the roadblock. By travelling with her I will get closer to the volcano."

1700 Health officials in Scotland have tested three samples of volcanic ash collected around the country and say the health risk from the dust is "minimal".

1645 Stranded passengers at Frankfurt are provided with three free meals a day and a bed, Robert Payne, the airport's spokesman told the BBC: "If passengers have medicine stored in their check-in luggage which they can't access, we have pharmacies where they can obtain prescriptions.

"We have our own 24-hour medical clinic, with staff going around to see if the passengers have any special requirements or needs."

1640 As the travel chaos spreads across Europe, the BBC has a new gallery of images .

1637 Uefa will decide on Monday whether four European semi-finals can go ahead due to the ash cloud travel chaos, BBC Sport understands.

Liverpool are due to face Atletico Madrid in the Spanish capital in the Europa League on Thursday 22 April. On the same day Roy Hodgson's Fulham meet Hamburg in Germany.

In the Champions League semi-finals, Inter Milan entertain Barcelona on the 20 April, while Bayern Munich play Lyon on 21 April.


1635 Kristina Halvorson tweets: "So. Yes. Having now accepted the reality of my current situation, being stranded in Paris is PRETTY AWESOME."

1631 Both its long and short haul flights in and out of the UK will be suspended on Sunday, British Airways has confirmed.

Alex Bushill

1606 The BBC's Alex Bushill at Heathrow says while the terminals are officially closed, people remain, including foreign nationals who cannot afford a hotel:

"One Brazilian man stranded here waiting to fly via Munich to Rio de Janeiro said it's not travel hell, it's more like travel purgatory. He wanders around aimlessly like a ghost, counting the minutes, the hours and increasingly the days, hoping for news about when flights will resume."

1601 Flights are disrupted in Italy, although the country's airspace has not been closed. Pope Benedict XVI was on one of the few planes that managed to leave Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport. He has now arrived in Malta for what is planned as a weekend pilgrimage.

1550 Icelandic names like Eyjafjallajoekull do not appear in the global news all that often. The New York Times has made the most of the opportunity and asked people in Times Square to have a go at saying the volcano's name. So how did they get on?

1545 Matthew Leeke has sent us this picture of the dust which appeared on his car overnight in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. You can see more of your pictures here.

Volcano dust on car


1541 The Irish Aviation Authority says Ireland's airspace will now remain closed until 1200 GMT on Sunday.

1535 The BBC's Lyse Doucet, who had to travel overland from Kabul to London, tweets: "In London at last under a warm sun. Tsunami of travellers at train station all sooo happy to have found a way through volcanic ash."

1526 The BBC's Dominic Laurie says: "British Airways is not insured for these circumstances. A spokeswoman told the BBC it is because it 'has no insurance against natural disasters', it will have to absorb costs itself. BA says it will put a figure on how much the ash disruption has caused next week, but not before."

1515 Several people have been using Twitter to ask for fellow tweeters' help in finding alternative transport.


SarahScuba's tweets: "Invoking the power of Twitter - I get married next week, my groom is stuck in Lisbon and needs to get to Hendaye by tomorrow morning."

Christiane tweets: "We are stuck in Stockholm, need to go to London. Is someone going to Trelleborg or Copenhagen?"

1500 Two church groups from Hampshire claim they are effectively under house arrest in an Indian hotel in Delhi. They were due to fly home from a trip to Nepal, but the authorities say the hotel stay has broken their visa terms.

1450 The ash cloud is moving and changing shape. On latest Met Office information, Nats advises UK flight restrictions will remain in place until at least 0700BST Sunday.

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, north of Leeds, there may be some airspace up until 1900BST, enabling some domestic flights to operate. But those hoping to travel should contact their airline.

After that time, the Met Office forecasts the cloud will progressively cover the whole of the UK.

1445 As travellers search out other forms of transport, Eurostar says there is availability on London to Paris and Brussels services on Saturday and Sunday. And P&O Ferries reports 400 calls every 15 minutes.

1426 One British bride-to-be has been crying since Thursday morning after being forced to abandon a dream wedding in Mexico because of the ban on flights. Time has run out for the Grimsby couple to make their beachfront nuptials.

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1359 Kathryn McArdle e-mails from Upminster:

My husband is stuck in Kathmandu. He was due to leave today, but can't even get as far as Delhi to change planes because he doesn't have an Indian visa, as one was not originally required for a trip to Nepal. The airport at Delhi is overflowing so he is stuck in Kathmandu indefinitely.

1351Volcanologist Thor Thordarson told the BBC there may be more to come from Iceland: "We are probably in for quite a long run of eruptions from Icelandic volcanoes - a number are ready to erupt and probably will within the next few years.

"The last two times this volcano erupted it was followed by a significantly larger eruption from the neighbouring Katla volcano, which typically produces much larger eruptions, plus floods. Whether they are a coincidence or whether they have some links we don't know."

Lorna Gordon

1312 The BBC's Lorna Gordon in Reykjavik says: "This eruption, which has caused so much chaos in the airspace over Europe, has had remarkably little effect on Iceland. We flew in just to the south and you could see a vast cloud of steam and ash rising into the air. But when you land, day-to-day life is pretty much carrying in as normal.

"The volcano is in a very remote part of the island. About 800 people have had to evacuate their homes because of worries over flash flooding and there is also a problem with ash clogging the engines of cars. But in Reykjavik, life continues as normal, because the prevailing winds are blowing most of the ash towards Europe."

1305 The high volcanic ash content in the air has resulted in some spectacular sunsets. Michael Connor sent us his picture of a dramatic skyline over the Tyne Valley in northern England on Friday.

Sunset over Gateshead, UK (image by Michael Connor)

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1252 Quintus Cary e-mails: "We have been returned to Bangkok, having been told to fly into Mumbai by our airline who, upon arrival, told us they were sending us back as we had no visa. They were even telling us that we would have to pay for our return to Mumbai once the restrictions were lifted.

"India's response to this international incident was appalling, their attitude is get these people out of our country, then they are not our problem. We were not provided with food or water, one group had to endure 12 hours without anything until the airline provided a sandwich, some crisps and a boiled egg!"

1245 Fresh fruit imports have been hit by the flight cancellations, says the BBC's business reporter Dominic Laurie.

One of the biggest suppliers to UK supermarkets, Blue Skies, says fruit from Brazil, Ghana, South Africa and Egypt, all of which goes through Heathrow, has been left rotting in its countries of origin, while stocks on UK supermarket shelves are running out.

1239 Sandra A Wilks of Southampton University sent this picture to the BBC News website. She took it on Thursday evening, as she was driving towards Selfoss in Iceland.

Volcano by Sandra A Wilks

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1235 Icelandic journalist Iris Erlingsdottir, writing in the Huffington Post, says: "Perhaps it is part of our national character to ignore potential dangers until it's too late. Volcanos created Iceland, and have, at times, done their best to destroy its human interlopers."

Roland Buerk

1219The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says the effects are being felt across Asia: "In Singapore, a major hub, airlines announced early on Saturday that more than 20 planes would not be leaving. Stranded passengers said it was all but impossible to find a hotel room in the city.

"It was the same in Hong Kong, and Australia's Qantas cancelled all its flights to Europe on Saturday and offered passengers refunds or the opportunity to rebook on a later date."

1212 Although technically not the country's fault - more thanks to Mother Nature - the volcanic ash has prompted the Daily Telegraph to ponder: What has Iceland done for Britain?

1206 The BBC in Jersey reports that Aurigny and Blue Islands have been given permission to fly to the other Channel Islands but there are no commercial flights from Jersey to mainland UK or Europe.

Lyse Doucet

1200 BBC correspondents have been tweeting about their personal experiences of the travel disruption. Lyse Doucet has had to travel by train from Kabul to London.

She tweets: "In Cologne. Standing room only on trains in Europe travel chaos. People ordered off trains. Too full to move! Stay calm urges one passenger!"

Read more of her tweets here.

1156 These excellent maps show how the ash has spread from Iceland over the past few days - and where it is likely to go next. Southern Scotland and the north of England appear to be missing the worst of it.

1146 The Met Office's Brian Golding has been telling the BBC what needs to happen for the ash to clear.


Professor Golding says the problems caused by the ash will continue for a few more days at least.

1140 Philosopher - and Heathrow airport's writer-in-resident - Alain de Botton has written for the BBC's Today programme about what a world without aircraft might look like.

"Everything would, of course, go very slowly. It would take two days to reach Rome, a month before one finally sailed exultantly into Sydney harbour. And yet there would be benefits tied up in this languor."

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1136 Winds blowing the ash cloud across Europe will continue in the same direction for at least two days, and could persist until the middle of next week, the Icelandic Met Office has said.

1133 Tom in London e-mails: "I was meant to be taking my wife to New York today for her 30th birthday. Have spent the past two days hoping that this would all blow over - no pun intended. Heading off to Lake District tomorrow instead - at least this way, we'll be spending some money in the UK! New York will still be there and we can try going again another time."

1130 British Airways has cancelled all its short haul flights for Sunday, but long haul flights are still being reviewed by the company.

1122 A number of amateur pilots say they plan to fly over London Gatwick airport in small planes at lunchtime - below the affected altitude - because it's a location they're not normally allowed to fly over.

Air ambulance services in the West Midlands region of the UK are now operational after being grounded by the ash.

Malcolm Brabant

1118 The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Greece says:

"Thousands of tourists are stranded as the cancellation signs spread like a plague through airports on the mainland and popular islands. The British Embassy in Athens says that for the time being people are self-reliant and have not asked for consular assistance.

"The tourist industry in debt-ridden Greece is concerned that it will have a bleak summer because of the poor exchange rate of the pound against the euro. But hotel owner George Barboutis said he sees the volcano disruption as an opportunity to demonstrate Greek 'filoxenia' or hospitality."

1114 Daniel J Wakin, writing in the New York Times, says the flight chaos could lead to the cancellation of a lot of musical performances around the world in the coming days.

1110 Olympic cycle champion Bradley Wiggins will miss a race in the Netherlands because of the disruption. And he's not the only sports person whose plans have been scuppered by the ash cloud.


1105 Seasidechap in Brighton tweets: "Got a filthy windscreen this morning. So has everyone else in area."

1041 Some passengers turned up to Glasgow airport from elsewhere in the UK, still hopeful of flying out as flights continued late on Friday, says the BBC's Julie Peacock at the airport.

As the ash cloud moves and changes shape, there is hope some services from Glasgow to the Western Isles may fly, but the advice is to check with individual airlines.

You can read more about the situation in Scottish airports here.

Roland Buerk

1041The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says passengers in Narita airport - half a world away from Iceland - are spending an uncomfortable night camping in the departure lounge: "Airlines have handed out sleeping bags and blankets but there have been complaints there aren't enough to go round. The longer the airports are closed the longer the backlog of passengers builds up.

"One British family said passengers were besieging the airline desks, demanding written guarantees they will be put on the first available flights."

1031 Paul Haskins, head of safety at the National Air Traffic Control Service has told the BBC the volcanic ash is highly hazardous for aircraft.

"The volcano continues to erupt, in fact reports last night suggest that it's more active than it previously was. That ash is continuing to be emitted into the atmosphere and the weather conditions are blowing it down towards UK air space. So for safety reasons, we have had to apply the International contingency plans that you have seen in place."

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1019 Londoner Aaron Soni e-mails: "We are stranded in Australia, all our work commitments are in chaos. Weather is fine but it's getting expensive to pay all the bills.

"We were going to leave on Saturday, but have been told not to bother checking back with the airline till Thursday at the earliest. We are visiting parents in Melbourne so can stay there, but my wife is meant to be at work and my son is meant to be back at school on Tuesday. But we have more time to bond now with my parents - so there is a positive."

You can read more of your stories here.

1016 Channel Islands air bosses are meeting at Guernsey Airport to discuss whether inter-island and private flights can resume. Flights between the Channel Islands fly below controlled airspace.

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1013 SG in Shanghai emails: "Having a terrible time over in China - no help, food, water or information from our airline! Tears and tantrums at the airport with some people stuck without visas and money!"

John Brain

1008 The BBC's John Brain at Heathrow airport says it is eerily quiet: "This is normally one of the noisiest spots to report from in the entire UK but apart from the traffic it's very quiet. You can even hear the birdsong."

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1000Dunk Gray in London e-mails: "No noise pollution or air pollution in Canning Town. Let's hope for another quiet day - reclaim our skies!"

0956 The Information is Beautiful blog has been comparing the CO2 output per day of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano and the European air industry and come up with an interesting graphic.

0950 If you are unable to travel and wondering what your passenger rights are, BBC personal finance reporter Kevin Peachey has the answer to some of your questions.

0945 Gilesdouglas tweets: "Got a space on a ferry to Wales by lying and saying I had a bicycle (sold out of foot traffic)."

0941 Saturday is the first day scientists will be able to fly above the volcano to assess activity, says Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland .

The ash plume is rising 8.5km (5.3 miles) into the air and geologists will look at how much ice - which cools the magma - has melted around the volcano, and how long the eruption and disruption could last.

0937 This fascinating video from the BBC's Britain from Above series shows what the skies above the UK usually look like, with more than 7,500 aircraft crossing it every day.

Steve Rosenberg

0930 The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Frankfurt says: "Airport officials at what is normally one of Europe's busiest hubs have turned the transit lounges and departure halls into dormitories - providing 1,500 emergency beds for stranded passengers, together with blankets, food and water."

0924 The ash has hit football. Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has been grounded . Manager Rafa Benitez says he could still play for the club in crucial games next week but at the moment he is unable to return to Spain to see a specialist about his knee.

0918 Brian Golding at the Met Office has told the BBC the ash had started to disperse but a new swathe of ash has now begun to move across the north of the UK.

"At one stage yesterday we hoped there was going to be a gap between the two but that gap seems to be rapidly disappearing."


0912 Aerlinesnews tweets: "We are basically a city without citizens now" says Schiphol spokeswoman, referring to the many facilities behind passport control."

0905 Virtually all of Europe's major airports remain closed as the ash drifts south from Iceland. Millions of air travellers are stranded after some 16,000 flights were cancelled on Friday. Airlines are estimated to be losing some £130m a day in the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.

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0855Ed Chivers from Sheffield e-mails:

"Icelandic ash has fallen to ground in Sheffield overnight - the cars on my street are liberally dusted with a greyish-brown layer of it."

Have you seen signs of ash in your street? Send us your photos of ash covered cars, send your pictures to or text them to 61124. If you have a large file you can upload here.> Read the terms and conditions


0855 Photohumorist tweets: "Still so lovely without aircraft over London. Fabulous fog too. Or is it ash?"

0849 If you are wondering why the ash has forced planes to be grounded, the BBC's Science unit has put together some useful information and graphics .

0840 Air traffic control company Nats has just released its latest update on air travel. Restrictions on flights in and out of the UK will remain in place until at least 0100 BST Sunday. But some domestic flights may be able to take off from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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0838Sarah from Aberdeen on an oil rig off the Netherlands e-mails: "I have been stuck on the rig for three extra days as the helicopters have also been grounded. I'm not being paid any extra for over-time either. Flights are being scheduled, but nothing is flying as yet and even when I get back to the beach, I'll still face the prospect of getting back to the UK. It's not so bad for my relief however, who is getting extra days at home."

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0833Nigel from Manchester e-mails: "I'm 'stuck' here in Los Angeles after a fun holiday visiting friends. The Americans have been wonderful, showing great sympathy to our situation. Unfortunately, we ran out of money, but our American friends have put us up for the duration and we spent the day at Malibu Beach. Many of the Europeans on our flight weren't too sorry to spend more time here in the US, especially in LA. Life could be worse."

0830 Thousands of flights across much of Europe remain cancelled.

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