International

Euro Ash Still Snarling Air Traffic

This image made available by NEODASS/University of Dundee shows the volcanic ash plume from Iceland, i

That tan area from the upper left, spreading down diagonally to the right, is the plume. Yesterday it was stretching across the north of Britain toward the continent. (AP Photo/NEODAAS/University of Dundee) hide caption

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This image made available by NEODASS/University of Dundee shows the volcanic ash plume from Iceland,

That tan area from the upper left, spreading down diagonally to the right, is the plume. Yesterday it was stretching across the north of Britain toward the continent. (AP Photo/NEODAAS/University of Dundee)

(We'll be adding some updates below, so be sure to hit your "refresh" button.)

By Mark Memmott

"Europe Faces Prolonged Air Chaos."

That's the top headline right now on BBC News' website, and it pretty much sums up one of the major elements of the news about the effect that the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to have on air travel across much of northern Europe.

The Associated Press writes that "the European air navigation agency says air traffic disruptions from the volcanic ash cloud will last at least another day." Already, more flights have been grounded than at any time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Thousand of flights were canceled Thursday," AP notes, "stranding tens of thousands of passengers, and officials said it was not clear when it would be safe enough to fly again."

Reuters says that "about 17,000 flights were expected to be canceled on Friday. ... Airports in Britain, France, Germany, and across Europe were closed until at least Saturday."

It's still not known whether the funeral for Polish president Lech Kaczynski, planned for Sunday in Krakow, might be postponed. President Barack Obama and other world leaders have been planning to attend.

The danger: Particles in the plume that the volcano has sent high into the sky could damage jets' engines, possibly disabling them.

As NPR's Richard Harris reported on Morning Edition, "forecasters can do a good job of anticipating where the ash cloud from Iceland's spewing volcano is likely to spread in the coming days, but scientists can't tell how long the eruption could last":

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On NPR's newscast this morning, anchor Paul Brown wrapped up the story so far and introdced a report from Berlin-based correspondent Eric Westervelt:

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One bit of good news on the travel front: Some flights have been allowed to take off from airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Among the news outlets that are live-blogging the ongoing tale of the travel mess are:

Times of London.
The Guardian.

Meanwhile, AP says, the World Health Organization has advised that Europeans in the path of the volcanic debris should try to stay indoors. And in Iceland, "iice chunks the size of houses tumbled down" from the volcano.

Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. Reporting from Iceland, NPR's Joe Palca says "it's still not certain how long the eruption will continue":

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Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. The cost:

"Disruption from the volcanic ash eruption in Iceland is costing airlines more than $200 million a day, the International Air Transport Association said on Friday." (Reuters)

Update at 9:15 a.m. ET: "Can You Say 'Eyjafjallajokull'? Icelandic Volcano's Name Is A Tongue-Twister."

(H/T to NPR's Jean Cochran for inspiring our headline.)

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