Volcanic Ash from Puyehue Halts Argentina’s Air Traffic Again Today

 @MarkJohansonIBT
on June 09 2011 3:08 PM

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A man stranded in Buenos Aires (REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian)

 

It looks like Iceland's volcanoes aren't the only ones stopping air traffic this year. 

Three airlines have cancelled flights out of Argentina's busiest airports Ezeiza and Aeroparque because of the ash cloud in the atmosphere from Chile's Puyehue volcano which erupted this past weekend.

Aerolíneas Argentinas, LAN and Austral canceled flights from Buenos Aires after the ash cloud arrived in the city.  Spain's Iberia airline rerouted flights from Madrid destined for Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile.

In a statement to the Argentine news agency Télam, Chile's LAN airline said it would not operate its flights in Aeroparque and Ezeiza International Airport until conditions are favorable and compatible with the highest security standards of the company.

Yesterday, winds blew the ash from the Chilean volcano in a widening arc, grounding most air travel to and from Argentina.  Geologists in Chile warned that the Cordon Caulle volcano could keep erupting for several weeks and this may not be the end of air traffic delays.

The Puyehue volcano is located about 540 miles (870km) south of the capital Santiago in the Andes mountain range. Saturday's eruption prompted Chilean authorities to order the relocation of almost 3,500 people as the volcano sent a 10-kilometer-high ash cloud into the atmosphere.  The winds carried much of this ash across the Andes into Argentina where international resort towns like Bariloche were blanketed in a thick grey film.

Closer to the volcano, strong rains that began on Monday night increased the danger of rivers clogging up with ash and overflowing in flash floods.  Evacuations expanded on Tuesday, with more than 4,000 people already fleeing their homes.

Volcanologist Jorge Muñoz of Chile's National Geology and Mines Service said that the eruption is considered to be moderate so far, but that could change.  He warns that the volcano will likely begin to expel lava in the coming days, along with pyroclastic material that can turn waterways into avalanches of mud and rock and have the potential to destroy downstream communities.

READ: 

Chile's Puyehue Volcano: Scenes From the Ash-Covered Ground (PHOTOS)

WATCH:

Chile's Puyehue Volcano: Video Footage of Lightning Inside Ash Cloud

 

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