The ash cloud from an erupting volcano in Eritrea is disrupting air travel in parts of East Africa. Officials with Ethiopian Airlines says the company canceled flights to Djibouti, northern Ethiopia and the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Tuesday. Earlier, Germany's Lufthansa canceled a flight from Eritrea's capital, Asmara, and a flight from Frankfurt to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, which advises the aviation industry about volcano eruptions, said the volcano in Eritrea began erupting early Monday. Eritrea borders Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. It has a population of about 5 million people. The agency that monitors volcanoes for the aviation industry says the Nabro volcano continued to erupt Tuesday, pushing dust into the atmosphere. Initially, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center said it was the nearby Dubbi volcano that had erupted. Both volcanos are located in the East African Rift Valley region near Eritrea's border with Djibouti.
The eruption follows a series of medium-sized earthquakes that struck the Eritrea and Ethiopia region on Sunday. The U.S. Geological Survey says the biggest quake had a magnitude of 5.7 The eruption prompted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to announce Monday during a visit to Ethiopia that she was cutting short a three-nation African tour.
This comes on the heels of Chile's Puyehue volcano eruption, which began 10 days ago, has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights over the past week and a half. While the problem remained localized in Chile and bordering Argentina during the first week, the cloud spread last Friday causing cancellations across South America towards Uruguay and into Brazil. Over the weekend, the globetrotting ash cloud made its way over to Australia and New Zealand, grounding several international and domestic flights. The two country's airlines differed on how to react to the ash, with Qantas and Jetstar cancelling flights, while Virgin and Air New Zealand continued operations by diverting flights and altering altitudes.
Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said flights could be affected for several days, mostly in southeast Australia, which includes Tasmania and Melbourne. I think it's fair to say there will be more disruption, so that's the bit of bad news. The weather patterns are breaking the ash up, but as it breaks up it's like chasing leaves around the yard, Dr Andrew Tupper said.