April 18, 2010 / 4:56 PM / 10 years ago

A volcanic eruption - Iceland's revenge?

STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - “The last wish of the Icelandic economy was to have its ashes scattered over Europe.”

Smoke and lava are seen as a volcano erupts in Eyjafjallajokul April 17, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland that has caused travel chaos across Europe has spawned numerous jokes on various Internet blog sites, Facebook and Twitter.

Iceland is only just emerging from the financial crisis and the North Atlantic island nation of just 320,000 has spent months wrangling with Britain and the Netherlands over debts incurred after its tops banks went under in 2008.

It owes the two countries some $5 billion as a result of its failed “Icesave” accounts, but many Icelanders fiercely oppose a repayment and say taxpayers should not have to pay for a mess left by private banks under the watch of other regulators.

“Icelandic taxpayer to Britons and Dutch: forget Icesave, kiss my ash!” one Twitter feed read.

Is Iceland getting the last word?

Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph, wrote in a blog: “Call it Iceland’s revenge, but it appears there is no more effective a way for a small country to get its own back on a larger one than to have an erupting volcano in its midst.”

No trade embargo, however effective, could compete, he said.

Air travel across much of Europe was paralyzed for a fourth day Sunday as the cloud of volcanic ash drifted from Iceland and hung over the continent, threatening aircraft and leaving thousands of people stranded.

“We said ‘send cash’, not ash!” another posting read.

Reporting by Mia Shanley, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton.

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