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Ash from Russian volcano forces flights cancellations in Alaska

Alaska Air said it canceled some flights in Alaska on Thursday after ash clouds from a Russian volcano eruption blew into the state. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA
Alaska Air said it canceled some flights in Alaska on Thursday after ash clouds from a Russian volcano eruption blew into the state. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA

April 14 (UPI) -- Airline carriers canceled scores of flights around Alaska as ash clouds from a far eastern Russian volcano made their way across the International Date Line.

Russia's Shiveluch Volcano erupted on Tuesday, sending plumes of ash as high as seven miles into the air. While the volcano's eruption appeared to begin slowing on Thursday, airlines took a cautious attitude.

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"An ash cloud from a volcanic eruption in Russia is impacting flights in the state of Alaska," Alaska Airlines said Thursday, when it canceled 45 flights. "As a safety precaution, Alaska Airlines has canceled some flights to and from Alaska and within the state."

Grant Aviation, which conducts 28 flights daily in Alaska, canceled two flights departing from Kenai to Anchorage, and two more departing Anchorage flying to Kenai on Thursday. A fifth flight was delayed due to the ash conditions.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory said while the volcanic cloud has drifted into Alaskan air space, "no ashfall is expected on Alaska communities." The center said it is working with National Weather Service to see if that pattern will change.

"The airborne cloud is being tracked by the National Weather Service Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center," the observatory said.

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Nate Eckstein, of the Anchorage Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, said the ash passed over the Aleutian Islands and across the Bering Sea on Thursday as it gathered in the Gulf of Alaska.

He told the Anchorage Daily News that further flights could be disrupted on Friday because of continued ash.

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