Iceland ash could impact Swedish flights: agency

Swedish air traffic could be affected when volcanic ash from Icelandic Grimsvötn reaches western Sweden on Tuesday afternoon, according to the country's Civil Aviation Administration (Luftfartsverket - LFV).

Iceland ash could impact Swedish flights: agency

The cloud of volcanic ash from Icelandic Grimsvötn is forecast to reach Sweden’s west coast during the late afternoon/evening on Tuesday, according to the latest forecasts.

“The ash from the volcano can come in over the west coast late in the afternoon/evening. This can have a certain impact on air traffic,” the administration wrote in a statement at Tuesday lunchtime.

“Travellers with queries are advised to get in contact with their airlines.”

The administration has begun to work according to the operative routines established to deal with the eventuality of an ash cloud sweeping across Swedish air space and impacting air travel.

The Swedish Transport Agency (Trafikverket) is the authority which would decide on restrictions.

Scientists expressed hope on Tuesday morning that the volcano’s activity is calming down.

“We can see signs of decreased activity,” said seismologist Reynir Bödvarsson of Uppsala University to news agency TT.

Bödvarsson doesn’t know if the trend will continue but thinks that there is reason to be hopeful.

“The activity could be calming down,“ he said to TT.

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) is following the situation with the help of the UK’s Met Office.

“At the moment the ash cloud is moving east. But there is also rain, which means that the ash will be diluted. As the cloud has moved in over Scotland it has been possible to measure fallout and decide concentration,“ said Jesper Blomster, meteorologist at SMHI to TT.

It is still too early to say if the fallout will affect air traffic. According to SMHI it will depend on the concentration of ash in the cloud.

And according to Blomster, it is only at the highest concentration of ash that air traffic is affected. He thinks that is unlikely to reach other big airports than Gothenburg’s Landvetter and Vänersborg’s airport in Trollhättan.

“The high level of ash concentration is estimated to reach Landvetter, and a medium level Trollhättan, but at the moment it doesn’t look like other airports will be affected,” Blomster told TT.

According to Blomster a lower concentration of ash will most likely reach Swedish cities Karlstad, Örebro, Linköping, Norrköping, Halmstad and Ängelholm on Tuesday.

The greater Stockholm area may be affected later in the week, according to an SMHI estimate.

The cloud of ash has already reached Norway. Medium levels of ash is expected over the south-western parts of the country and has made airplanes and helicopters from airports Stavanger and Karmoey be grounded from 8 am Tuesday morning.

“We never thought that the ash would reach us so quickly but strong westerly winds has brought it here,” said Norwegian airport operator Avinor’s CEO Dag Falk-Pedersen to Norwegian TV.

According to Swedish airport operator Swedavia, it is still not certain whether the clouds of ash will affect Swedish air traffic.

“From the latest information we received Arlanda will not be affected, but some domestic destinations might, depending on how the ash spreads,” Anders Bredfell, head of information at Swedavia Arlanda told daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

The eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano in south-east Iceland is reported to be more extensive than the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 which caused weeks of air travel chaos across Europe.

When Eyjafjallajökull erupted, 375 airports were closed and 100,000 flights were cancelled all over Europe. Despite the severity of this year’s eruption changes in guidelines and routines render it unlikely that the disruption will be on similar levels, according to several observers.

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US woman hoops star convicted of assault

An American woman basketball player was convicted of assault by a Swedish court on Wednesday for pushing and kicking man on the Baltic island of Gotland in February.

US woman hoops star convicted of assault

Jeannie Saunders, 25, had been a star for the Visby Ladies women’s professional basketball team along with fellow American teammate Ashleigh Brown, 23, until both found themselves accused with beating a man following a party in their flat in Visby in February.

While criminal suspicions against Brown were later dropped, Saunders was formally charged with assault and stood trial last week before the Gotland District Court, with prosecutors arguing the basketball star should be sentenced to six months in prison.

On Wednesday, the court delivered a guilty verdict in the case, handing Saunders a suspended sentence and 120 hours of community service.

She was also ordered to pay the victim of the assault 16,000 kronor ($1,800) in compensation, far less than the 41,000 kronor he had requested, according to the news website.

The incident which prompted the criminal charges took place in mid-February following a birthday party in a flat shared by Saunders and Brown.

The two Americans, along with two other teammates, went looking for the 43-year-old man who they believed had stolen a teammate’s mobile phone after tracking the missing phone with a special app.

When the basketball players confronted the man outside on the street near where the party was taking place, he was highly inebriated and claimed to have no memory of having the phone.

But when the women discovered he had the missing phone they grew very agitated.

According to the indictment, Saunders then pushed the 43-year-old to the ground so he was left face-down in a snowdrift.

She then proceeded to kick and stomp him several times in the stomach, back, neck, and head before she and the rest of her teammates left the scene, leaving the man unconscious on the ground.

“I was kicked and stomped until someone yelled “enough”; the atmosphere was tense and aggressive,” the 43-year-old told the court, according to

In court Saunders denied having committed assault, but admitted she pushed the man down in self-defence and kicked him twice after she tried to reclaim the missing phone.

“He raised his arm to elbow me. Then I pushed him down and kicked him in the shoulder to make sure he didn’t get up again. Two other players dragged me away when I kicked him one more time. No one else touched him,” she told the court.

In handing down the sentence, the court took into consideration the fact that the victim of the assault was drunk at the time, meaning that his testimony may not have been entirely reliable.

In addition, one witness changed her account of what happened and the victim has no documented long-term suffering as a result of the assault.

Thus, rather than sentencing her to the four months in prison generally associated with such cases, Saunders instead was handed a suspended sentence and community service.

As a result, Saunders, who has weak ties to Sweden, must remain in the country until she completes her community service.

The Local/dl