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Ash cloud halts all Svalbard air traffic
Ban following latest eruption from Icelandic volcano halts all air traffic expected to be lifted by early Thursday
An ash cloud from the most recent volcano eruption in Iceland that halted all air traffic in Svalbard at about noon Wednesday is expected to move on from the area tonight, according this forecast chart for midnight Thursday by the United Kingdom National Weather Service. The red areas show higher-than-normal ash levels with no flight restrictions, gray areas where flights are allowed with some safety restrictions and black areas where air travel is banned. Chart by

Published May 19, 2010

Another ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano halted all Svalbard air traffic as of about noon Wednesday, but "forecasts indicate that the ash cloud is likely to move away from the area of Svalbard during the coming evening or night," according to a statement by the governor's office.

Emergency transportation is in place, with the Coast Guard vessel Senja standing by with a doctor on board, as well as being able to provide ambulance service to the mainland. Other vessels with the Svalbard governor's office and Longyearbyen operators are also available.

About 70 people stranded each way on Scandinavian Airlines flights between Tromsø and Longyearbyen have been rebooked for the early Thursday morning flight. Store Norske also temporarily halted its Svea mining operations since transportation from the mine in the event of an emergency is not possible.

The latest eruption comes a month after European air traffic was thrown into chaos for a week by a large ash cloud. Flights between Svalbard and mainland Norway were halted for only about a day, but a backlog of travelers and continued suspension of flights in southern Norway resulted in several days of stranded travelers and an absence of mail and fresh supplies.

Flights across the United Kingdom were halted Monday, with many resuming Tuesday, as a result of the latest eruption. Norway suspended helicopter flights to its North Sea platforms Tuesday, although officials said it was not expected to affect production. That restriction was lifted Wednesday.



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