By Mark Memmott

The White House announced just a short time ago that President Barack Obama will not be attending the state funeral in Krakow tomorrow for Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria because the volcanic ash drifting over Europe from Iceland has made it too dangerous to fly through those skies.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs issued this statement from the president:

"I spoke with acting President Komorowski and told him that I regret that I will not be able to make it to Poland due to the volcanic ash that is disrupting air travel over Europe. Michelle and I continue to the Polish people in our thoughts and prayers, and will support them in any way I can as they recover from this terrible tragedy.President Kaczynski was a patriot and close friend and ally of the United States, as were those who died alongside him, and the American people will never forget the lives they led."

Kaczynski and more than 90 others died last weekend in a plane crash in Russia (which was not related to the volcanic ash; the eruption did not begin until Wednesday).

As we've been reporting, thousands of flights to, from and over Europe have been canceled in recent days and the disruptions are likely to continue for a few more days at least.

categories: Accidents and Disasters, Foreign News, Obama Administration

3:15 - April 17, 2010