Latin America & Caribbean

Ash closes Argentina airport days after its re-opening

Ash billowing from Puyehue on 5 June 2011
Image caption At the height of the volcanic eruption, thousands of people had to be evacuated from the area

A cloud of ash caused by a volcano in Chile has closed an airport in neighbouring Argentina just days after it had re-opened.

The closure of the airport in Bariloche comes three days after flights had resumed following a seven-month suspension due to the ash.

The re-opening had been welcomed by local media with triumphant headlines.

Bariloche and nearby towns have seen visitor numbers drop sharply since the Puyehue volcano erupted in June.

At the time, airports as far away as in Melbourne, Australia, were forced to close.

Airlines cancelled all flights flying in and out of Bariloche, in Patagonia, on Monday.

Economic loss

Commercial flights to Bariloche had resumed on Friday for the first time since the Puyehue volcano erupted on 5 June 2011.

Local newspaper El Cordillerano headlined the story with one word: "Hallelujah".

Bariloche, and nearby Villa la Angostura and San Martin de los Andes are popular destinations for people wanting to ski in winter, and go trekking and fishing in summer.

But the lack of flights has badly hit the tourism industry in the area.

Chilean airline LAN had said on Thursday that flights schedules would depend on the density of ash from the volcano, and whether the wind would blow it towards Bariloche.

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