The closure of the European flightzone thanks to a volcanic eruption in Iceland looks set to continue well into this week, leaving vast numbers of travellers stranded around the world. But beyond the packed airport halls and grounded planes, the eruption has affected the world in many unusual ways. Here, a list of strange facts surrounding the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull:
The volcano looks like Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Radar images of the volcano's crater appear to resemble a "nightmarish face...reminiscent of Edvard Munch's painting The Scream," reports Claire Bates in the Daily Mail. "Coincidentally it is thought that the masterpiece was inspired by the blood red skies caused by the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883." (SEE PHOTO)
It forced a Monty Python star to take a $5,000 cab ride
John Cleese, of the classic Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy troupe, paid $5,100 for a taxi ride from Oslo in Norway to Brussels in Belgium. Known for his absurdist humor, notes Clive Irving at the Daily Beast, Cleese is "the perfect posterboy for the present situation."
Norway is being governed via iPad
Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway, is stuck in New York. But he has reportedly been running the country quite effectively from 4,000 miles away with his new Apple iPad. "It's official," says Stevie Smith at the Tech Herald. Apple's latest toy is "capable of running the world."
The eruption destroyed millions of flowers — in Kenya
Floral exports make up 20 percent of the Kenya's economy — and they have been completely shut down by Europe's flight ban. The head of the Kenya Flower Council told the BBC that local growers have been forced to destroy 3,000 tons of flowers since last week with devastating effects on the local economy.
Just try buying a kumquat in Frankfurt
Like Europe's imported flowers, many of its exotic fruits and vegetables are flown in from Africa and the Middle East. With so many planes grounded, food suppliers are warning of shortages. "We will lack beans and chillies from Egypt and fresh herbs from Israel," says wholesaler Peter Grundhoefer to Reuters. And "exotic fruits like mango, kumquats and physalis" will start becoming scarce in the next day or two.
Twitter has become an emergency travel service
Stranded travellers are using Twitter to hitch rides across Europe, reports Ben Fenton in the Financial Times. By posting messages with searchable hash tags such as #getmehome or #stranded, Tweeple have been able locate "potential lift sharers and others in the same boat (or train, or car)." A boat service from France to the U.K. was also organized using the social networking tool.
Airlines are asking for a "volcano bailout"
While the EU was recently forced to write a check to save Greece's economy, it could be forced to dig deep in its pockets for the airline industry, too. Several carriers, including British Airways, have asked for financial compensation. The bill could prove to be steep: at the same time BA is losing $30 million each day and Air France-KLM around $40 million, volcanologists are warning that eruption could go on for months.
The sports world is reeling
Marquee sporting events around the globe have been hit hard by the flight ban. Olympic runner Abdellah Falil was unable to compete in the Boston Marathon on Monday; several Olympic cyclists missed the Amstel Gold race in Holland; the Japanese MotoGP has been postponed; and wrestling fans will be devastated to learn that WWE stars including John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista are stranded in Belfast, Northern Ireland. If the disruptions persist, several European soccer games — including Tuesday's match between Barcelona and Inter Milan — may have to be postponed.
Prepare for lots of snow in New Jersey
Experts warn that the last three times Eyjafjallajökull has erupted, it triggered the eruption of Katla, an even more powerful volcano a few miles away. Such an eruption could be a global event, reports Roger Boyes in the Times, as Katla's last eruption — in the 1820s — created severe famines around the world, and changed the global "climate so dramatically that New Jersey recorded its largest snowfall and Egypt one of its most enduring droughts."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- The best online movies to watch this weekend
- The danger of the Democrats' lack of desperation
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- Hey, Paul Ryan's new poverty plan isn't completely terrible!
Subscribe to the Week