> Icelandic volcano Hekla erupts

Source: DPA | Published: Sunday February 27, 9:12 AM 

REYKJAVIK - Iceland's largest volcano, Hekla, erupted explosively today, said television reports.

Witnesses described the eruption as 'powerful'. 

Iceland's seismological institute said tremors were registered.

Initial air radar observations indicated lava flows from the 1,491m-high volcano in the south of the island.

Authorities suspended air traffic over the unpopulated region.

Hekla has a history of explosive eruptions, with its most recent recorded in 1970, 1980 and 1991.

Eyewitnesses told Icelandic television the eruption appeared to have begun on the eastern side of the volcano, around 100km south-east of the capital, Reykjavik.

The witnesses said the eruption appeared to be much larger in magnitude than the one in 1991.

Volcano expert Ragnar Stefansson said the eruption was first recorded on seismic instruments at 4.10am Australian Eastern time.

By 5.25am, a 10km-high plume of ash and fire was visible on aviation radar.

"It appears as though the entire cap of the volcano has blown off," said Stefansson.

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