NPR logo Chaos Continues In Europe As Volcanic Ash Spreads Travel Woes


Chaos Continues In Europe As Volcanic Ash Spreads Travel Woes

No where to go in Duesseldorf. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images) hide caption

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No where to go in Duesseldorf. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images)

The disruptions to air travel across Europe because of ash spewed into the air by a volcano in Iceland continue. Here's a roundup of news about the travel mess and the eruption:

— "Virtually all of Europe's major airports remain closed as a huge plume of volcanic ash drifts south and east across the continent from Iceland. Millions of air travelers are stranded across Europe after some 18,600 flights were cancelled on Friday. The disruption from the spread of ash would continue into Sunday, European aviation agency Eurocontrol said." (BBC News)

— "Europe's air travel chaos deepened on Saturday as a huge cloud of volcanic ash spread further across the continent, halting nearly three in four flights and stranding thousands of passengers worldwide. European aviation agency Eurocontrol said no landings or takeoffs were possible for civilian aircraft in most of northern and central Europe because of the cloud from an Icelandic volcano which was still erupting. It expected 6,000 flights in European airspace or 27.3% of the normal level for a Saturday. On Friday there were 10,400 flights, 35.9% of the usual number for that day." (Reuters)

— Yesterday, "airspace had been opening across Scotland and Northern Ireland and (Britain's National Air Traffic Services) had said there may be a window for flights to and from Manchester, Liverpool and airports north of those for six hours between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. today. But early this morning it announced that Scotland's airspace had again been shut and the restrictions across northern England reapplied. Just before 9am it confirmed these restrictions would apply untill tomorrow." (The Guardian)

— "Travel chaos reigns in many European cities as people look for other options. Rail and ferry operators between Britain and France are running at top capacity." (NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, from Paris.)

— "So far delegations from India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Pakistan have canceled plans to attend Sunday's state funeral" for Polish president Lech Kaczynski, who was killed one week ago in an unrelated plane crash in Russia. "Poland said it still expects nearly 100 dignitaries, including President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he would travel to Krakow by train and car while Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said he would go by car." (Associated Press)

(Update at 3:30 p.m. ET: The White House just announced that Obama will not be able to go to the funeral because of the danger from the airborne ash, which can clog up and stop jet engines.)

— "It looks like a big, dark rain cloud. But instead of being up in the sky and sort of hovering overhead, it's a rain cloud that seems to be coming from the ground and heading up. Of course it's not rain, it's volcanic ash." (NPR's Joe Palca, who is in Iceland, as he was driving toward the volcanic eruption earlier today.)