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Volcano ash disrupts Caribbean flights

world Updated: Feb 13, 2010 09:48 IST
AFP
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Ash from a volcanic eruption on the Caribbean island of Montserrat hung in the air around Antigua and Barbuda Friday, causing difficult driving conditions and forcing flight suspensions.

Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano erupted Thursday, sending a plume of ash 10 kilometers (six miles) high into the sky, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory said.

The ash forced LIAT, the region's biggest airline, to temporarily suspend flights in and out of Antigua's V.C. Bird International airport.

The airline said in a statement late Friday it had resumed flights to and from Antigua, but added that the "continued presence of airborne ash clouds over Dominica and Guadeloupe has forced LIAT to suspend all remaining flights to both destinations."

Flights to other Caribbean islands including Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Maarten were also disrupted on Thursday.

Montserrat is about 35 kilometers south of Antigua and Barbuda, but residents on the southern side of Antigua said heavy ash had fallen on their homes and made driving conditions difficult at times.

Yvonne McMillan, a resident of the southern village of Jennings, told an Antiguan radio station that "it was pretty rough" on Friday morning.

"Visibility was extremely poor. Coming off a hill you don't see what's below. I had to switch (my lights) to low beam all the time because high beam confused me even more," she said.

Meteorological officials described the ash fall as "quite bad."

Senior forecaster Lorne Salmon said cooling meant the air had become heavier, sinking into valley and low-lying areas.

"When this happens a lot of the ash becomes more concentrated," she said.

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