Eritrean volcanic eruption threatens Middle East flights

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Flights in the Horn of Africa region are being disrupted as airlines and meteorologists throughout the Middle East monitor an ash cloud resulting from the eruption of a volcano in Eritrea.

The eruption of the Nabro volcano was triggered on 12 June following a series of earthquakes at the northeastern end of the East African Rift Valley.

An ash plume up to 8.4mi (13.5km) high has been moving steadily northwest across Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt but is now caught in a westerly jetstream and is curving back eastwards.

The Israel Meteorological Service said on the evening of 13 June that the plume seemed unlikely to pass over Israel but would potentially affect Jordan and Iraq.

Lufthansa said that it had cancelled flights to Addis Ababa and Asmara on 13 June and to Addis Ababa again on 14 June. The carrier serves the Ethiopian capital five times weekly and the Eritrean capital, thrice-weekly.

Lufthansa said it is monitoring the situation closely before deciding on any further cancellations.

Ethiopian Airlines has said that its services to Khartoum, Djibouti and domestic northern Ethiopian destinations have been affected, and is advising passengers to check their flight status before they travel.

Egyptair has said the ash cloud is also affecting its services to Addis Ababa and Asmara.

Royal Jordanian Airlines chief executive Hussein Dabbas said on 14 June that the airline was closely watching the ash cloud's progress. Its flights had not yet been affected but it had a contingency plan in place in case it had to suspend services, particularly to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.