Eritrean News Notes
Complied by Barry Hillenbrand
Smoke in Eritrea
A volcano in Eritrea erupted for three days in June, its ash cloud spreading out over Sudan and towards Saudi Arabia and forcing the cancellation of some regional flights. The Nabro volcano began belching plumes of ash at about midnight on June 12 after a string of earthquakes. Scientists initially wrongly identified the source of the eruption in the region close to the Ethiopian border as the nearby Dubbi volcano. Airlines cancelled flights to the area. Ethiopian Airlines officials told Reuters they had cancelled flights to the Sudanese capital Khartoum and neighboring Djibouti, as well as several domestic flights to Ethiopia’s north.
“The ash’s direction and its intensity were very high at first, but the Modis (monitoring) satellite shows a weakening,” said Atalay Arefe, natural sciences professor at Addis Ababa University. Satellite images on the France-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre’s (VAAC) website showed the cloud heading toward Saudi Arabia.
Nabro, which had not erupted since 1861, burst into life after a string of earthquakes, the biggest of which measured 5.7. The initial eruption threw an ash cloud 8.4 miles high. Authorities in Ethiopia and Eritrea reported no casualties around the volcano. It was hard to verify these reports because of the difficulty accessing the arid region. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton cut short her stay in Africa by a day because the ash cloud risked leaving her stranded.
Playing away, walking away
Thirteen members of an Eritrean soccer club taking part in a regional championship in Tanzania disappeared after the side was knocked out of the tournament. The Eritrean Red Sea Football Club players were due to leave Dar Es Salaam after their elimination from the regional club championship but a head count at their departure point revealed that half the squad was missing. “Thirteen out of 26 players of the Eritrean team have disappeared,” secretary general of the Tanzania Football Federation Angetile Osiah told Reuters. “We have reported the matter to relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation. Some team members colluded in the incident by trying to stamp the passports of the missing players at airport immigration checkpoints, but when a physical head count was conducted, it was discovered that 13 players were missing.”
Illegal immigrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia often use Tanzania as a transit point to South Africa and elsewhere. This is not the first time members of an Eritrean team have vanished after a tournament outside the country. In 2009, 12 members of the national squad disappeared in Kenya after competing in a regional tournament.