Volcano eruption causes chaos in UK

When the National Air Services grounded all flights and closed airports in the UK due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland, it seemed as though time stopped as Britain was hurled into a state of panic.

Even here in the small town of St. Andrews, Scotland, where nothing seems to disturb our placid everyday activity, no one can go anywhere without hearing round-the-clock BBC reports of the incident.

The eruption of Eyjafjalljokull on April 16 caused extensive evacuations in southern Iceland and generated a cloud of ash that had reportedly risen to 30,000 feet in height and extended over the North Atlantic into areas of Europe as far as northern Italy.

Initially, the air ban was only scheduled to last until 6 p.m. on April 22. However, it continues to be pushed back.

This incident appears to be an exception for a country notorious for taking everything in stride. It is affecting the UK in more ways than one as experts worry over things such as the health of European citizens from ash ingestion to the steady decline in produce supply if travel is halted for an extended period.

Each student here at University of St. Andrews received an email informing us of the closure of all major UK airports. I have several friends whose families were scheduled to visit St. Andrews this week but have been forced to cancel their trips entirely, losing hundreds of dollars due to canceled reservations, and several others are stranded in foreign countries without a means of returning home.

Meanwhile, several prominent leaders and foreign dignitaries, including Prince Charles and President Obama, canceled plans to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski on April 19.

While the airlines are losing catastrophic amounts of money, business is booming for bus and rail lines as people clamor to return to jobs and classes.

Officials tell UK residents to stand by as stranded travelers camp out in airports and travel offices. The general outlook varies here in St. Andrews. The locals appear largely unfazed while members of our international student population are proclaiming messages of doom, declaring that none of us are getting out when exams are over.

Editor’s Note: Emily Cody is currently studying abroad in St. Andrews, Scotland, and this is her personal account. During publication, it was learned that the airline ban was lifted on April 20.

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