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Aviation

Bardarbunga volcano 'is erupting'

Iceland's Meteorological Institute has said that the Bardarbunga volcano began erupting overnight. The airspace around the volcanic system has been closed, though no ash has yet been detected, authorities say.

A small eruption occurred north of Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano overnight, the Icelandic meteorological agency said on Friday, causing it to raise its aviation alert to red, the highest level.

Although the agency put a ban on air traffic around the volcano, it said no volcanic ash that could pose a danger to aircraft has so far been detected.

A previous ban was put in place on August 23, but lifted a day later.

"No volcanic ash has been detected with the radar system at the moment...Seismic eruption tremor is low, indicating effusive eruption without significant explosive activity," Iceland's National Crisis Coordination Center said.

It said the eruption took place just after midnight UTC in a lava field not covered by ice. The risk of an ash cloud is greatest if an eruption occurs under a glacier.

A spokeswoman for the Meteorological Institute, Kristin Gudmundsdottir, said activity at the fissure seemed unchanged in the morning hours after decreasing two hours after the eruption started.

The estimated one-kilometer (0.6-mile) fissure eruption came after nearly two weeks of earthquakes in the region.

The continued rumblings at the volcano system, Iceland's largest, have raised concerns that an eruption could cause a similar disruption to air travel to that which occurred in 2010, when an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland closed much of Europe's airspace for six days.

tj/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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