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Volcanic Ash Continues to Suspend Air Travel

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Stranded airline passengers are sleeping on cots at airports across Europe as flights have been canceled for a second day due to a vast plume of ash spewing from an erupting volcano in Iceland. 

Scientists say there is no way of knowing how long the eruption will last. But serious delays will continue through the weekend.  The Discount Irish airline, RyanAir has canceled all of its flights until Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press reports that Ireland has lifted restrictions on most of its airspace but Britain is not allowing flights over England until Saturday morning, and Germany has shut down 11 of its 16 international airports. The ash is expected to affect air travel over Europe through the end of the weekend.

The New York Times reports the shutdown of airspace is one of the most sweeping ever ordered in peacetime. Air traffic across much of Europe was halted Thursday, stranding thousands of people who were on canceled flights. Officials say the smoke and ash compromises visibility and that debris can get sucked into airplane engines.

Scientists say it could take days for the skies to become safe to fly again in the area and that the volcano, which is erupting under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, could continue to send up ash for days or even weeks.

UPDATE TO THIS STORY SINCE IT WAS FIRST POSTED: This story was updated to include Friday's cancellations.