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Volcanic ash cloud disrupts South America flights

Last Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 00:49

Entre Lagos: A vast cloud of ash
spewing from a Chilean volcano disrupted air travel on Wednesday
across much of South America, as heavy rains around the
eruption site prompted fears of mudslides.

Air traffic was sharply curtailed on the continent as the
ash cloud drifted over Argentina, and into Brazil. Flights in
and out of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, a key regional
hub, were canceled for most of the day.

Officials at Uruguay`s main Carrasco airport however said
late yesterday the situation was expected to normalise in the
coming day, after more than 90 per cent of flights were
cancelled due to safety concerns over the cloud.

Rain mixed with volcanic ash poured down on communities
near the Puyehue volcano yesterday, raising fears that the
weight of falling water and volcanic materials could cause
mudslides and threaten dams in the area, some 870 kilometres
(540 miles) south of the capital Santiago.

A milky coating of ash settled on the waters of Gol Gol
river, which was swollen by heavy rains.

"We are concerned about water that can drag the volcanic
material certain places and cause some dams to fall," Public
Works Minister Hernan de Soliminhac said.

Enrique Valdivieso, director of Chile`s National Service
of Geology and Mines (Sernageomin), said heavy rains would not
quell the power of the volcano but could bring gases and ash
to the surface, contaminating nearby rivers.

Valdivieso said Puyehue`s eruptions have slowed but there
is still a risk of large amounts of sediment pouring down from
the eruption.


First Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 00:49
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