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IPFS News Link • Environment

Europe extends flight bans as ash cloud spreads


LONDON (AFP) - – Millions of people faced worsening travel chaos Saturday as a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland moved further south and east, forcing European countries to extend flight bans into next week.

France decided to shut the three airports in the Paris area and others in the north of the country until 8:00 am (0600 GMT) on Monday due to the ash cloud that has caused the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II.

Italy also said it would not allow any flights until 0600 GMT Monday, Ireland shut its airspace until 1200 GMT Sunday and Britain and Germany lengthened bans on most flights in their airspace until 0600 GMT Sunday.

Additionally, British Airways cancelled all its flights due to have arrived in and depart London on Sunday.

Winds blowing the massive cloud eastward from Iceland to Russia will continue in the same direction for at least two days and could go on until the middle of next week, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Saturday.

"The ash will continue to be directed towards Britain and Scandinavia," Teitur Arason, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.

"That's the general situation for the coming days ... more or less for the next two days or maybe the next four or five days," he said.

The volcanic ash cloud is heading towards Greece as it moves further south as well as east into Russia, Britain's meteorological group the Met Office said on Saturday.

Other European nations also moved to extend their flight bans, including Austria to 0000 GMT Sunday and Belgium to 1200 GMT. Related article: Volcanoes - notorious hazard for air travel

Poland said it was shutting its airspace "until further notice".