Photos: Volcano eruption in Chile

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  1. The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano on Sunday, June 13. The volcano erupted on June 4, sending clouds of ash high into the atmosphere. Within 48 hours of eruption, the plume measured 50,000 feet above the Earth, high enough to pass above the weather that usually breaks up lower lying ash plumes. At this high altitude, the ash entered the jetstream, which carried it rapidly eastward. (MODIS Terra satellite / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A French tourist sits on her luggage at the Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 7 after her flight to Uruguay was cancelled due to an ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain. The wind carried volcanic ash across the Andes to Argentina resulting in the closure of six airports. The volcano dormant for decades erupted in south-central Chile on June 4 (Natacha Pisarenko / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The Gol-Gol River in Chile is covered with volcanic ash from the erupting Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano on June 7. (Alvaro Vidal / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A man walks on a road covered with ash from the volcano in Puyehue, Chile on June 7. (Ian Salas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A member of the Chilean armed forces pushes a car on a road covered with ash at the Cardenal Samore border pass between Argentina and Chile on June 7. (Ivan Alvarado / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A traffic sign is covered with ash in Puyehue on June 7. (Ian Salas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Residents pass army trucks as they are evacuated from the area around the erupting volcano in Pichico, near Lago Ranco, on June 7. Around 3,500 people were evacuated as the volcano sent a towering plume of ash into the air. (Carlos Succo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A plume of light-coloured ash stretches along the edge of the Andes in this satellite image acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra spacecraft on the morning of June 6, as the eruption at the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain continues. (NASA via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Residents of Rininahue look at a plume of smoke and ash merging from the volcano near Lago Ranco on June 6. The volcano was calm on Monday, two days after raining down ash and forcing thousands to flee, although the cloud of soot it had belched out still darkened skies as far away as Argentina. (Carlos Succo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A pumice rock belched out by the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle chain volcano is shown near the Cardenal Samore border pass between Argentina and Chile on June 6. (Ivan Alvarado / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. An aircraft is stranded on the tarmac at an airport in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, on June 6. A volcano dormant for decades erupted in south-central Chile on Saturday, belching an ash cloud more than 6 miles high that blew over the Andes and carpeted a resort town in neighboring Argentina. (Chiwi Giambirtone / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. An inhabitant of the region near the erupting volcano looks out from a shelter in Entrelagos town on June 6, after residents were evacuated. (Ivan Alvarado / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Rosehip covered in ash from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain are seen in the mountain resort of San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina on June 6. (Patricio Rodriguez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A man covers his face as he walks through an ash-covered street of the mountain resort of San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina on June 6. (Patricio Rodriguez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. An overview of the ash-covered mountain resort of San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina on June 6. (Patricio Rodriguez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A man removes ash that fell on the roof of his house in Villa Campanario, near San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, on June 6. (Francisco Ramos Mejia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A view of the ash plume at sunset above the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano chain near Entrelagos on June 5. (Carlos Gutierrez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. An electric storm lights up the sky on June 5, after a volcano in the Caulle Cordon area of southern Chile erupted violently, billowing smoke and ash high into the sky and prompting more than 3,500 people to evacuate. (Daniel Basualto / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A giant ash cloud rises after the eruption of the volcano in the Los Rios region on June 5. (Ian Salas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Lightning strikes above the Caulle Cordon volcanic chain on June 5. It was not immediately clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960. (Francisco Negroni / Agencia Uno via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. An eerie show of lightning is seen above the volcanic chain on June 5. Chile is home to about 2,000 volcanoes, second only to Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active. (Francisco Negroni / Agencia Uno via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Lightning is seen amid a cloud of ash on June 5. Chile said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas six miles high. (Claudio Santana / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A cloud of ash three miles wide rises into the sky on June 5. (Ian Salas / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Policemen gather as smoke and ash rise from the volcanic chain on June 5. Most of the residents in 22 nearby settlements evacuated when the eruption began on Saturday afternoon. (Ivan Alvarado / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A car is covered in volcanic ash in San Carlos de Bariloche, southern Argentina, on June 5. The wind carried ash across the Andes to Argentina, dusting this tourist town, which had to close its airport. (Alfredo Leiva / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Ash dusts the fairways of the Llao Llao Hotel golf course in Bariloche, Argentina, on June 5. (Francisco Ramos Mejia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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By
updated 6/7/2011 3:00:19 PM ET 2011-06-07T19:00:19

Stiff winds blew ash from a Chilean volcano Tuesday in a widening arc across Argentina to the capital, grounding most air travel to and from the country for much of the day.

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Since airborne ash can severely damage jet engines, Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral, the country's state-owned international and domestic airlines, canceled all flights within Argentina as well as to and from other countries. At least six international carriers also suspended flights between Buenos Aires and cities in the United States, Europe and South America, and flights from Chile over Argentine territory also were suspended.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Aerolineas announced it was slowly resuming flights from Buenos Aires to the north and east, areas beyond the reach of the thickest part of the plume. But airports closer to the volcano were ordered closed through at least Sunday. LAN Air Lines also was resuming flights over Argentine territory.

The cancellations left the usually bustling international and domestic airports in Buenos Aires nearly deserted as aviation regulators met to study the weather patterns. Geologists have said the Cordon Caulle volcano could keep erupting for several weeks.

The ash cloud was blowing well to the south and away from Chile's capital, Santiago, but at least four international carriers there also suspended flights across Argentina to Buenos Aires, Brazil, Uruguay and Europe as a precaution.

The closest major city to the volcano is San Carlos de Bariloche, just over the border in Argentina, where thick abrasive soot was coating slopes in a string of resorts that depend on the winter ski season, opening in less than two weeks. The plume then stretched northeast before curving east, dumping ash over Argentina's vast ranchlands before reaching the capital and even Paraguay, north of Argentina.

"Given that even this morning the volcano continues to be active, the reopening of the airports isn't expected until the conditions necessary for security can be guaranteed," Argentina's transportation department announced.

Transportation officials were meeting with representatives of Argentina's meteorological service, civil aviation board and airport regulator to figure out where the ash cloud will move next and what to do about it, the statement said.

The ash couldn't be seen in the streets of downtown Buenos Aires by midday Tuesday.

But Jorge Echarran, who runs the emergency council of the surrounding Buenos Aires province, said in a local radio interview that "the cloud is already in the suburbs and is reaching the capital," hovering at an altitude of between 16,400 feet and 22,970 feet.

Closer to the volcano, strong rains that began Monday night increased the danger of rivers getting clogged with ash and then overflowing in flash floods. Evacuations were expanding, with more than 4,000 people already fleeing their homes.

Vulcanologist Jorge Munoz of Chile's National Geology and Mines Service said the eruption so far is considered to be moderate, but that could change. He said the volcano will likely begin to expel lava in the coming days, along with pyroclastic material that can turn waterways into avalanches of mud and rock.

Many people have refused to evacuate despite living below the eruption, which opened a three-mile long fissure along a high-altitude ridge between two volcanic peaks.

That could prove to be fatal, according to Michael Dobbs, a volcano expert at the University of Santiago who said the "eruptive column," more than 6 miles high, could collapse, suddenly releasing molten lava, toxic gases and other material measuring 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit on communities below.

Associated Press writer Federico Quilodran in Santiago, Chile, and Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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