Volcanic cloud shuts down European airspace
Top news: Ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland is causing the largest disruption of international air travel since the 9/11 attacks. More than 17,000 flights are expected to be canceled today with major airports closed in Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, the north of the Czech Republic, northern France including all Paris airports, and at airports in northern Germany, Austria and parts of Poland.
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano began erupting on Wednesday for the second time in a month, shooting a cloud of ash 20,000 to 30,000 feet in the air. Despite the disruptions, the cloud remains invisible from the ground in most of continental Europe.
Eyjafjallajokull doesn't seem to be letting up and the disruptions are expected to continue for at least 24 hours. British authorities say the country's airspace won't open until Saturday morning at the earliest. Interestingly, Reykjavik airport remains open as it is located West of the volcano and winds are blowing the ash to the south and east.
With much of Polish airspace, including Warsaw airport, closed, it's not yet clear whether the ash will disrupt the travel of world leaders planning to attend the funeral on Sunday of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in an unrelated plane crash last weekend. U.S. President Barack Obama is currently scheduled to leave Washington for Poland on Saturday evening.
Investigation: A new U.N. report on the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto strongly criticizes the Pakistani government for not adequately protecting her.
-By Joshua Keating
TORSTEN SILZ/AFP/Getty Image
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