May 28, 2008 / 10:39 PM / 11 years ago

Volcanic ash causes Chile to cancel some flights

Smoke and ash rise from Chaiten volcano, located some 1220 km (758 miles) south of Santiago May 24, 2008. REUTERS/Cristian Brown/Intendencia Region de los Lagos/Handout (CHILE) BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Ash from the Chaiten volcano that has been erupting in Chile for nearly a month led the country’s flagship airline LAN to cancel flights to a string of small airports on Wednesday.

Winds initially carried most of the ash from the volcano east into Argentina, but it is now being carried north within Chile. Ash clogs jet engines.

The airline did not say when flights to Puerto Montt, Temuco, Valdivia and Osorno would resume. LAN accounts for more than half of Chile’s international passenger traffic and nearly three-quarters of its domestic traffic.

Chaiten volcano, 760 miles south of the capital Santiago, started erupting on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock. Experts have said it could erupt at a less volatile pace for months and even years.

Thousands of people living near the volcano have been evacuated.

Earlier in May, Argentina suspended some flights on its side of the remote Patagonia region that straddles the south of the two countries because of ash from the eruption.

Chile’s chain of some 2,000 volcanoes is the world’s second-largest after Indonesia’s.

Reporting by Monica Vargas, Writing by Simon Gardner, Editing by Toni Reinhold

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