|Passengers walked through a near-empty Buenos Aires airport because of the volcano-forced cancellations. (Daniel Garcia/ AFP/ Getty Images)|
BUENOS AIRES — The drifting plume of ash from Chile’s erupting volcano forced new cancellations of dozens of flights yesterday in Argentina, Uruguay, and other South American countries, even as airlines in Australia began trying to move a backlog of volcano-stranded passengers.
Buenos Aires’s two main airports halted flights due to the cloud of fine grit, which can damage airplane engines. The cloud also has drifted across the Pacific Ocean, and most flights between Australia and New Zealand remained grounded.
In Argentina, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was among those inconvenienced by the closings of Buenos Aires airports. He was forced to fly instead into the city of Cordoba and travel by car to visit President Cristina Fernandez in the capital.
All flights were canceled at the international airport in Montevideo, Uruguay, and some were grounded in Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil.
Airlines in Australia started flying a backlog of thousands of stranded passengers to and from the city of Melbourne yesterday as ash cleared somewhat after forcing hundreds of cancellations. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said the ash cloud might disrupt more flights later in the week.
Chile’s Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting June 4. Since then, about 4,000 Chileans have been evacuated from the area.
Last week, the ash cloud grounded hundreds of flights in parts of South America.
Airlines that travel through East Africa yesterday were keeping an eye on an ash cloud after a volcano eruption in Eritrea.