Many chemical industry executives will be grounded for at least the next 24 hours, as a major volcanic eruption in Iceland is shutting down airspace in most parts of NW Europe this afternoon.
UK and Scandinavian airspace is totally closed as a result of the eruption, pictured above. The dust cloud contains minute particles of silicate, which can seriously damage aeroplane engines. Experts suggest the problem is likely to spread across northern Europe, given prevailing wind conditions. Already main airports in France are closing, with Germany and the Low Countries expected to be affected soon.
The cloud is drifting at 18000 – 33000 feet (5500 – 10000 metres) and not thought to represent a threat to human health. The UK’s air traffic control service said it was “the worst airspace restriction in living memory”. It seems unlikely that the airspace will re-open for at least 24 hours.