Volcano in Iceland: Photos
A plume of steam rising 6700 metres from a crater under about 200 metres of ice at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland (Reuters)
A volcano beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier began erupting on Wednesday for the second time in less than a month, triggering floods and shooting smoke and steam miles into the air.
An enormous ash cloud from a remote Icelandic volcano drifted over northern Europe on Thursday and stranded air travellers on six continents.
About 700 people from rural areas near the volcano have been evacuated on because of flash flooding, as water carrying icebergs the size of small houses rushed down the mountain.
The Icelandic Civil Protection Department said there could be damage to roads and other infrastructure.
Hot gases melted the thick ice, sending cascades of water thundering down the steep slopes of the volcano.
The ash cloud became a menace to air travel as it drifted south and east towards northern Europe.
The ash plume drifted at between 6,000 metres and 11,000 metres, where it could get sucked into plane engines and cause them to shut down.
The smoke and ash could also affect aircraft visibility.
A spokeswoman for air traffic service Eurocontrol said the ash had led to the cancellation of about 4,000 flights within Europe, and that could rise to 6,000.
The Icelandic ash plume lies above the Atlantic Ocean close to flight paths over northern Europe, and most routes between Europe and the US East Coast.
A geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office said the problem might persist for weeks, depending on how much wind carries the ash.
3 News / APTN