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Chile volcanic ash strands 30,000 in Australia and NZ  

Marooned passengers scramble for hotel rooms

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12 Jun 11 - Tens of thousands of passengers in Australia and New Zealand were stranded Sunday when Qantas Airways grounded all of its flights in and out of Melbourne. Marooned passengers scrambled for hotel rooms in Melbourne as they contemplated lengthy delays.

Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger also suspended flights as the ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano threatened to damage aircraft engines.

Most of the aircraft stranded are on the Melbourne to Sydney route, considered the fourth busiest in the world.

Strong winds have carried the ash clouds 9,400km (5,800 miles) across the Pacific to New Zealand since the Chilean volcano erupted more than a week ago.

Private weather forecaster said that ash from the volcano had spiraled clockwise around Antarctica at a very high altitude.

This is the first such event in the Southern Hemisphere since 1991, said Dr Andrew Tupper, head of Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC). "It's pretty major." 

The ash cloud has "a very strong satellite signal and it's right up there with the big, big eruption clouds," said Tupper. "It will keep going. I would suspect it will do a loop of the globe."

See: ls-qantas-flights/story-e6freqwf-1226073601542
Thanks to Nancy Spee, Laurel and stephanie Relfe for these links

Track the ash cloud here.




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