Volcanic Ash Halts Airport Operations in Europe

A volcano in Iceland called Eyjafjallajokull has erupted for the first time since 1821, sending volcanic ash up into the air affecting airport operations in north western Europe.

This has stranded travelers and officials say it could take days for the skies to become safe again in one of aviation’s most congested areas.

The ash cloud, floating about 7 miles above Earth and capable of knocking out jet engines, wrecked travel plans for tens of thousands of people, from tourists and business travelers to politicians and royals.

Non-emergency flights in Britain were canceled, and most will stay grounded until at least midday Friday.

Authorities in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium also closed their air space.

France shut down 24 airports, including the main hub of Charles de Gaulle in Paris, Germany’s Berlin and Hamburg were shut Thursday evening, and several flights out of the U.S. had to double back.

Kyla Evans, spokeswoman for air traffic service Eurocontrol, said half of all trans-Atlantic flights were expected to be canceled Friday.

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