Menu

Ash From Caribbean Volcano Grounds Flights

A huge cloud of ash billowing from a Montserrat volcano forced the suspension of some international flights over the Caribbean on Sunday, airline and airport officials said.

Flights between Venezuela and Miami were grounded, as well those to and from the Dutch island of Aruba, after a dome atop a volcano on Montserrat island collapsed Saturday, sending volcanic debris cascading down the mountain and shooting ashes 10 miles (16 kilometers) into the sky.

The decreased visibility over the Caribbean forced Venezuelan carrier Aeropostal to suspend its flights Sunday between Caracas and Miami, Aeropostal Vice President Juan Carlos Blanco told The Associated Press. Aeropostal flights to Aruba, Cuba, Curacao and the Dominican Republic were also grounded.

"As soon as it's safe to fly, we'll renew the flights," Blanco said.

A spokesman for the Simon Bolivar International Airport that serves Caracas said American Airlines had also suspended its flights between Miami and Caracas. American Airlines officials there were not immediately available for comment.

On Aruba, all flights were canceled Sunday, including those to Miami, New York, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Toronto.

On Saturday, a flight from Amsterdam to Aruba was canceled, as well as flights to and from Miami, Philadelphia and Cleveland, said Ruben Trapenberg, a spokesman for Aruba's Airport Authority.

Flights at other Caribbean points, however, were not affected.

There no injuries reported on Montserrat, an island with a population of about 5,000, although authorities there on Saturday said residents should remain indoors as ash fell from the sky.

The dome had been building since August and formed the highest part of the 3,000-foot (920-meter) Soufriere Hills volcano.

The Soufriere Hills volcano sprang to life in 1995. More than half the British Caribbean territory's 12,000 inhabitants moved away. An eruption in 1997 buried much of the south, including the capital, Plymouth, and killed 19 people.