Volcanic ash disrupts Latin travel

by Alfie FEATHERSTONE on June 10, 2011

A cloud of ash has spewed from a Chilean volcano range and has grounded all flights at airports across Argentina and Uruguay.

Every flight from Buenos Aires, the Argentinean capital, and many from Uruguay’s capital Montevideo have been cancelled.

Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle in Chile, the volcano range in question that is around 800kms south of Santiago, started erupting last Friday. Airport officials say that the cloud is now directly above Argentina’s largest city, hanging at a height of at least 9,000m.

Other smaller regional hubs in Argentina are also going to be closed until further notice, officials say, with a crisis committee due to meet and re-evaluate matters later. All flights are cancelled due to the ash cloud that is overlooking Buenos Aires, confirmed a spokesperson representing Aeropuertos Argentinos 2000, a group that manages airports.

The official said the ash cloud was hanging beneath the height planes normally fly at. As mentioned, flights into Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport have also had to be cancelled. After they were cancelled earlier this week, flights to Buenos Aires - one of South America’s key air hubs, let alone Argentina’s - had started to resume yesterday before then being called off again yesterday.

Notably, this is the first major eruption of the Chilean volcano in 51 years as the area was struck by a massive earthquake in 1960. With over 3,000 volcanoes along its length, and at least 80 of them active, Chile is statistically among the world’s most volcanic countries.

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