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Ash from Russian volcano prompts Alaska flight cancellations

Volcano spews ash cloud Tuesday and Wednesday on Russia’s Kamchatka
In this photo provided by the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Volcanology Institute, volcanic ash covers the ground and trees after the Shiveluch volcano’s eruption in Klyuchi village on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, Tuesday, April 11, 2023. The volcano has erupted on Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. The eruption early Tuesday of Shiveluch, one of Kamchatka’s most active volcanoes, spewed clouds of dust 12 miles into the sky. (Yury Demyanchuk/Russian Academy of Sciences’ Volcanology Institute via AP)

Alaska Airlines canceled more than two dozen flights in its namesake state Thursday because of an ash cloud from a volcano in Russia that drifted into Alaska, the Seattle-based airline said.

The ash cloud is from Shiveluch Volcano, the airline said. By mid-day Thursday, 28 flights to, from and within Alaska were canceled.

“We continue to monitor the ash cloud, and depending on its location, movement and timing, we might need to cancel additional flights,” the airline said in a statement. It encouraged travelers to check the status of their flights online.

The ash cloud drifted over Alaska air space in the last few days, the Alaska Volcano Observatory said in a statement. “Although this cloud poses a potential hazard to aviation and has disrupted some flights, no ashfall is expected on Alaska communities,” it said.

Shiveluch, one of Kamchatka Peninsula’s most active volcanoes, started erupting early Tuesday, spewing ash more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) northwest. Several Russian villages were covered in grey volcanic dust in the largest fallout in nearly 60 years.

On Wednesday, the eruption sent an ash cloud more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) into the air. The volcano is located about 1,772 miles (2,772 kilometers) west of Anchorage.

Since the start of the eruption, the area has been closed to aircraft and residents have been advised to stay indoors.

The villages located about 50 kilometers (some 30 miles) from the volcano, were covered by a 20-centimeter (nearly 8-inch) layer of dust. Residents posted videos showing the ash cloud plunging the area into darkness.

Shiveluch has two parts — the 3,283-meter (10,771-foot) Old Shiveluch, and the smaller, highly active Young Shiveluch.

Volcanic ash is angular and sharp and has been used as an industrial abrasive. The powdered rock can cause a jet engine to shut down.

The Kamchatka Peninsula, which extends into the Pacific Ocean about 6,600 kilometers (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, is one of the world’s most concentrated area of geothermal activity, with about 30 active volcanoes.

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