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Travelers hope for ash-free sky over New Zealand for weekend

06-19-2011 10:54 BJT

Stranded travelers at New Zealand airports were given a glimmer of hope Friday as a giant ash cloud over the country began to move away, and aircraft returned to the sky.

The ash cloud, which originated from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano, was moving eastwards after causing five days of chaos in New Zealand, according to the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

However, Civil Aviation Authority meteorological manager Peter Lechner said another plume south of Australia could start moving towards New Zealand, although it looked stationary at the moment.

Air New Zealand resumed most of its South Island flights Friday, after suspending flights from Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown Thursday after the ash plume descended to 3,000 meters.

Qantas and its budget subsidiary, Jetstar, had resumed flying to and from Queenstown, Auckland and Wellington, and were to restart Christchurch flights at 6 p.m..

Pacific Blue announced Friday it would resume services from Auckland to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and to Samoa.

The company was still reviewing other trans-Tasman services.

Thousands of travelers have been sleeping at airports or have canceled their travel plans because of the disruption.

Scientists do not know how long the volcano, which began erupting on June 4, will continue blasting dust and ash particles up to 10 km into the sky.

The last major eruption from the volcano occurred in 1960 and lasted for two months.

The ash takes around six days to arrive over New Zealand and scientists estimate the cloud could take as long to disperse once the eruptions stop.

Editor:Sun Luying |Source: Xinhua

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