TOULOUSE, France 06-13-2011(AFP) – The Dubbi volcano in Eritrea erupted and sent a plume of ash up to 15 kilometres into the air on Monday, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre said, disrupting air traffic in the region.
The eruption, which took place at 2100 GMT on Sunday, is "significant" according to Jean Nicolau of French weather service Meteo-France, which houses VAAC's operations for southern Europe and Africa.
"Based on satellite images we are seeing, the volcanic ash is reaching altitudes of 13 to 15 kilometres" (42,650 to 49,200 feet), he said, adding: "We are not in a critical situation like with the Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn, which concerned a very busy air traffic zone, because the traffic is much less important" in east Africa.
The ash cloud nonetheless forced US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to cut short her Africa trip on Monday because of the risk of the ash cloud moving toward her location in Addis Ababa, a senior US official said.
The eruption, which was continuing late Monday, was the volcano's first since 1861.
According to preliminary Meteo-France simulations, the lower-density ash clouds were heading west/northwest toward Sudan, while the higher-density clouds were heading west/southwest.
"If the cloud reaches Egypt, Israel or the Arab peninsula, the impact on air traffic will be more significant, but it is too early to know," Nicolau said.
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