Montserrat Ash Disrupts Puerto Rico Flights

Most of the problems were in the small airport in the southern city of Ponce, but four Delta Airlines flights were canceled in San Juan, on the north coast.


Volanic ash from the Caribbean island of Montserrat disrupted airport traffic in Puerto Rico Saturday, prompting delays and cancellations by several airlines.

Most of the problems were in the small airport in the southern city of Ponce, but four Delta Airlines flights were canceled in San Juan, on the north coast, said Fred Sosa, the general manager of the capital's Luis Munos Marin International Airport.

Most flights out of San Juan were unaffected, Sosa said.

A large cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert also was contributing to the poor visibility, said Miguel Calimano, general manager of Puerto Rico's regional airport system.

Ash from the volcano in Montserrat, a British territory about 275 miles southwest of Puerto Rico, often clouds the skies of the Caribbean.

In recent days, officials have warned that a dome of hardened lava over the Soufriere Hills volcano has swollen to near-record size and could collapse. On Wednesday, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory said the ash cloud had reached 8,000 feet and was blowing west.

People in Montserrat have been on alert since Dec. 24, when the dome's growth shifted toward the volcano's northwestern flank, which is home to many of the island's 5,000 inhabitants. In January, the government issued an evacuation order for dozens of households.

The volcano's 1997 eruption buried much of the island's south and killed 19 people.


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