Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Dust creates problems for helicopter

AS AIR routes to and from Shetland were disrupted for a second day yesterday (Friday), islanders described how traces of volcanic ash fell to the ground and created dustings in places.

The sulphurous smell reported on Thursday appeared to have gone from most places, but some islanders said they had experienced breathing problems.

Shetland Coastguard said the invisible cloud of volcanic ash had created some considerable problems for their rescue helicopter out on a “life or death” mission, on Friday morning.

The helicopter was tasked to fly a seriously ill woman from the Out Skerries to the Gilbert Bain Hospital, in Lerwick.

A coastguard spokesman said that after the hour long mission the helicopter was covered in a fine layer of dust which had been extremely difficult to wash off.

The crew only went out after ambulance services told them that the woman would probably not survive if they had to wait for the ferry which takes 90 minutes to reach the island.

“What we did first was put it to the crew to see if they were prepared to fly or not. They were aware that another, quite large cloud of ash was on its way to Shetland.

“You can’t physically see the cloud but the ash was starting to collect on the windscreen. They only really noticed that the helicopter was covered in ash when they got back to base.

“They have to be very careful of how to wash this off as it gets in everywhere. It is like glass powder. That is why it is also dangerous to breathe in, because it clogs up the lungs.”

He added that the helicopter was again ready to go on service but would only do so in life or death situations.

Earlier on Friday islanders said they had experienced volcano ash falling to the ground on Thursday night.

Hillswick resident Fiona Cope said: “It was just about 11pm last night that I went outside to have a look before going to bed.

“Both our cars were sprinkled with a slight cover of ash, it was fairly visible. There were still some traces this morning, but it was not as obvious at it was last night.

“I could also smell kind of a sulphurous smell. By the time I had finished taking pictures my throat was getting sore, but it was perfectly fine in the morning again.”

“I wasn’t aware of the ash falling, but this morning I noticed that my glasses were speckled. That must have happened when I was outside during the night and was also breathing in the ash.”

Meanwhile, the long awaited concert by veteran rockers Showaddywaddy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Clickimin Leisure Centre had to be postponed until 2 October due to the cancellation of flights.

All tickets for the April concert will be valid for the new date, anyone unable to attend and wishing a refund can obtain this from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Centre, from Monday.