Air traffic disruptions continue in Europe amidst volcanic ash plume (2)

13:10, April 18, 2010      

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Passengers wait as flights restriction continues at Vienna International Airport in Vienna, Austria, April 17, 2010. Due to the volcanic ash across Europe since Friday, the Austrian airline is also closed on Saturday to 8:00 p.m. local time, the Austrian air traffic control authority, Austro Control,said Saturday morning. (Xinhua/Liu Gang)

The paralyzed air transportation has stranded thousands of passengers, leading to countless delays and missed appointments, meetings, holidays, homecomings and other important visits.

Sunday's state funeral for the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, who were killed in a plane crash near the western Russian city of Smolensk on April 10th, may also see fewer important guests because of the ash cloud.

Polish authorities said that up to 80 foreign delegations were expected to attend the funeral, and the guests include U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain's Prince Charles and presidents and prime ministers of a number of other countries.

However, due to the Polish governemnt's unwillingness to delay the date of the funeral and the ban on the country's air travel on Friday, many of the guests are facing troubles getting there on time.

The governments of the United States and Russia have yet to say if their leaders will try to make the trip.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said she was busy making her way across southern Europe on Saturday after being stranded in Lisbon, and still intends to be at the funeral.

Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic was preparing to drive the 300 km from his capital city of Bratislava to attend the funeral.

Seeking to keep up with their already disrupted schedules, stranded air travelers were seeking many different ways, such as renting a car, taking a train or even a taxi.

The volcano started to spew thick clouds of black and brown ash into the air on Wednesday below Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier.

The volcano first erupted last month and the eruption lasted for three weeks. The eruption was much weaker compared to the current one.

Experts say the eruption is showing signs of ebbing but could continue to erupt for days or even months to come.

Passengers wait at the closed Arlanda Airport in Sweden, April 17, 2010. Most airports in Sweden have been closed since Thursday due to a huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano. (Xinhua/He Miao)

The ash had fallen to a height of 5 to 8 km from 6 to 11 km since the volcano first started erupting earlier this week, said Iceland's Meteorological Office.

The total volume of magma also appeared to be declining with the volcano looking less volatile on Saturday as heavy pulsing and violent explosions turned to steadier eruptions.

Source: Xinhua
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