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Volcanic ash forces flights’ suspension at Argentina and Uruguay main airports

Monday, October 17th 2011 - 03:57 UTC
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Aircraft lined up in River Plate airports protected from the ash  Aircraft lined up in River Plate airports protected from the ash

Argentina and Uruguay suspended flights at major airports Sunday due to dangerous ash from neighbouring Chile's Puyehue volcano, which has disrupted global travel since it erupted earlier this year.

Authorities suspended or cancelled numerous international flights serving the United States, Peru and Brazil at the Ezeiza airport south of the capital, hours after shutting off Jorge Newbery airport in Buenos Aires.

Likewise in Uruguay’s main international airport, Carrasco, all flights were suspended until further notice. A sunny Sunday rapidly turned cloudy and dusty mid morning forcing to take precautionary measures since the sandy dust corrodes aircraft turbines.

“We need the ash cloud to pass” before the airlines operating out of the airport, which serves domestic and regional flights, resume their operations, Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi told local television.

“The ash presence became denser in the last couple of hours and the National Weather Forecast Service told us that it is because the ash cloud flew in from the south and upon reaching the City area, it reached turbulence and became thicker,” he explained.

Argentina's LAN airline said in a statement that international as well as domestic flights were affected, including routs to Mendoza on the steps of the Andes Mountains toward the Chilean border, and Ushuaia in the far south.

In Carrasco, Uruguay 15 international flights were cancelled, largely affecting flights to Chile and neighbouring Argentina and Brazil. Brazilian air carriers Gol and Tam both cancelled their flights Sunday to Buenos Aires and Montevideo, company officials said.

Uruguay’s meteorological office released a yellow alert for the centre and south of the country given the limited visibility. However airport authorities said that Carrasco “was not closed” and it is up to each company to cancel or suspend flights.

Air traffic in the southern hemisphere has been hit hard in recent months. Airports in Buenos Aires and Montevideo and later those in Australia and New Zealand were paralyzed when the volcano high in the Andes roared back to life in June after sleeping dormant for half a century.

Since June most airports in Argentina and Uruguay have been forced into shutdowns at some point due to dangerous ash threatening the safety of commercial airliners.

The ash cloud also dampened hopes of a good tourist season at the Argentine ski resort of Bariloche, some 1,600 kilometres southwest of Buenos Aires and just 100 kilometres southeast of Puyehue, as flights were cancelled and pristine snow was darkened by the spewing volcano.

Similarly in the neighbouring Argentine province of Neuquen thousands of sheep have starved to death because the heavy coat of ash impedes them from feeding and once the wool in covered with ash and rain the animals can’t stand the weight.

The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjoll last year caused the greatest shutdown of air space in peacetime Europe, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled and eight million passengers affected.

Top Comments

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  • briton

    for a country that claims that she is wealthy,
    then lets thousands of sheep die , says a lot,
    but be it for us to comment, at least they have another exuse to blame it on,

    Oct 17th, 2011 - 04:03 pm 0
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