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Q&A: ICELANDIC VOLCANO

Q. HOW MANY FLIGHTS WERE CANCELLED?
A. Every single commercial flight out of the UK was grounded yesterday. At least 600 British Airways flights were included. Flights in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Russia were also affected.

Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM FLYING TODAY?
A. Airports owner BAA and airlines recommend passengers contact their carriers to ensure their flights are not affected.

Q. IF IT IS THAT BAD WHY IS ICELANDIC AIRSPACE OPEN?
A. The cloud is drifting south and Icelandic flights usually fly north, leaving it relatively unscathed.

Q. WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT A BIT OF DUST?
A. If ash dust is sucked into a plane’s engine it risks killing its power. It can clog up aircraft ventilation, hydraulic and electronic systems and damage paint and windscreens. Planes have been known to lose power in all engines.

Q. WHAT IS THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND?
A. More than 700 people were evacuated from the area. Scientists recorded seismic activity in the hours before the eruption, which is not believed to have caused any casualties.

Q. SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED?
A. The volcano erupted under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. It sent a vast plume of ash almost four miles into the air. It was still billowing smoke and steam last night, more than 24 hours after the eruption.

Q. DOES THIS HAPPEN OFTEN IN ICELAND?
A. It is the second time in a month a volcano in the area has erupted. The earlier incident was much smaller. Before that it was 1821 since it last went off. Iceland sits on a volcanic hotspot in the mid-Atlantic Ridge and has relatively frequent eruptions, although most occur in sparsely populated areas.