Eritrean volcanic eruption brings ash cloud scenario back to East Africa


(eTN) – The recent eruption of a volcano in Eritrea and the subsequent ash cloud drifting across the continent is bringing home the Icelandic ash cloud scenario from last year to East Africa.

According to airline sources, flights are being delayed or even canceled already as the ash cloud drifts into the airlanes leading across the continent, causing airlines to fly extensive detours, while others have reportedly canceled flights to Djibouti, Asmara, and even Addis Ababa.
The eruption was registered on Sunday night and initially thought to be a local event, but soon it became evident that ash clouds were rising as high as 45,000 feet and began to drift across those parts of Eastern Africa frequented by aircraft flying at various altitudes between 37,000 and 41,000 feet enroute to and from Europe.

Located near the border with Ethiopia, the Nabro eruption was preceded by several earthquakes, about which no damage reports are available from Eritrea, a country almost notorious for its secrecy about all and sundry and current weather forecasts are also not conclusive if the ash cloud, should eruptions continue, could eventually drift across the Red Sea and reach the Arabian peninsula, where intense air traffic would be equally disrupted.

In a recent update, it was learned that the ash cloud has spreading out to the Sudan, southern Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Some regional flights, as a result, have been cancelled. Emirates cancelled flights yesterday through Addis Ababa, and Ethiopian Airlines cancelled flights to Khartoum and Djibouti, as did Kenya Airways, cancelling one flight from Addis Ababa to Djibouti.