Chile Volcano Grounds More Flights

The drifting plume of ash from Chile's erupting volcano forced new cancelations of dozens of flights on Monday 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' 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, U.N. 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 on 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 on Monday as ash cleared somewhat after forcing hundreds of cancelations.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said the ash cloud was large enough, however, to disrupt more flights later in the week.

Chile's Cordon Caulle volcano began erupting on 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.

Aerolineas Argentinas rerouted incoming flights from Europe on Monday away from Buenos Aires and instead to Cordoba, about 430 miles to the northwest.

Other regional airports in southern Argentina have been closed since last week.

Brazilian airlines Gol and TAM informed passengers that flights to Argentina and Uruguay were called off Monday until further notice because of unsafe conditions caused by the shifting ashes.
In Chile, the airline LAN on Sunday and Monday halted some flights between Santiago and various cities in South America, as well as to Australia and New Zealand. In Colombia, Avianca suspended flights between Bogota and Buenos Aires on Sunday and Monday.

The Chilean volcano wasn't the only one causing problems for airlines and travelers. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was also cutting short a three-nation tour of Africa due to a volcanic eruption that has created an ash cloud over parts of East Africa.