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Iceland volcano ash causes fresh air travel chaos

Aviation chiefs predicted Thursday that the drifting dust could throw travel plans into disarray for a further two days, after flights were banned over more than 10 European countries.

Thousands of passengers from Hong Kong to Dublin were stranded when aviation chiefs decided it was too risky to allow planes to fly through the cloud of ash, which is upwards of 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above the earth’s surface.

Although not visible from the ground, volcanic ash can be highly dangerous for aircraft, clogging up the engines and reducing visibility, experts say.

Up to 5,000 flights were affected by the flight bans Thursday, said Eurocontrol, the agency that coordinates flights in Europe.

Flights from all over the world, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris and Athens, were affected by the cancellations in northern Europe.

The ash from the volcano under Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier blew southeast after Wednesday’s eruption towards Scotland and Norway, before covering England and Scandinavia, according to the London-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

The drifting cloud also closed airspace in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the north of France, parts of northern Germany and part of northern Poland.

Passengers’ travel nightmare was far from over Friday, with airspace closures still in force and the European air traffic control group Eurocontrol predicting further travel chaos.

The disruption “could last two days,” spokesman Kyla Evans told AFP from the agency’s Brussel’s headquarters.

Flights between North America and Europe also faced major disruption, with half of all services expected to be cancelled Friday, according to Eurocontrol.

Farmer tells of Iceland volcano blast There are an average of 600 flights between Europe and North America a day, it said.

Britain — which closed its airspace at 1100 GMT Thursday — said the ban would stay in force until 1800 GMT Friday for most flights in its airspace.

Belgian airspace is to remain closed Friday, authorities confirmed, while Air France said its flights in and out of Paris would not run.

In Scotland, health authorities warned people to beware of possible health problems from volcano ash falling to the ground.

Norway was the first to ground its flights on Wednesday evening, followed by Scotland overnight into Thursday and then London, before air traffic controllers announced no flights could go through British and Irish airspace.

Finland closed its northern airspace an hour later, followed by Denmark and Sweden.

Paris’s two main airports and more than a dozen others in the north of France were closed Thursday, aviation officials said.

A total of 466 flights between Spain and European destinations were cancelled Thursday because of the ash by 1530 GMT, Spain’s AENA aviation authority said.

Icelandic airports, however, reported no problems.

“The wind is blowing the ash to the east,” Hjordis Gudmundsdottir of the Icelandic Airport Authority told AFP, adding: “It’s amazing really.”

About 300 flights in and out of London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports had already been cancelled before the airspace was closed, leaving many of the 260,000 passengers who typically use the airports each day with nowhere to go.

“Basically we’re stranded here, and a lot of people are angry. I realise it’s an act of God — however it would be nice to have another exit strategy,” said Isobel Connolly, who was due to fly from Heathrow to Ireland.

In 1982, British Airways and Singapore Airways jumbo jets lost their engines when they flew into an ash cloud over Indonesia, while a KLM flight had a similar experience in 1989 over Alaska.

“On each occasion, the plane fell to within a few thousand feet of the ground before it was possible to restart the engines,” Rothery said.

Clashes over slums break out in Algiers

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Clashes over slums break out in Algiers

ALGIERS (AFP) – Youths from a slum in Algeria‘s capital clashed Tuesday with police in a protest against their housing conditions, leaving at least 11 policemen injured.

Similar incidents had occurred on Monday as residents of the Diar Echems working-class district of Algiers protested against their squalid housing and demanded new homes.

At around 3:30 pm (1430 GMT), dozens of youths were harassing riot police by throwing stones and other projectiles at them from an area that overlooks the road, which was closed to all traffic.

At least 11 police officers were wounded, according to an AFP journalist at the scene. The police practically sealed off the area, keeping the youths at a distance. Some of the youths wore balaclavas to hide their faces.

The police then brought in anti-riot vehicles and beefed up their presence to pre-empt further clashes and attacks on banks and shops near the area.

Residents of the district sometimes live 10 to a single room or in shacks, according to accounts in the Algerian press, and they have begun to protest at these conditions and press for better housing.

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Champions League stunner as Barca beaten by Russian champs Rubin

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Champions League stunner as Barca beaten by Russian champs Rubin

MADRID (AFP) – Holders Barcelona suffered their first European defeat in 10 months falling to a shock 2-1 home loss at the hands of Rubin Kazan in the Champions League group F match on Tuesday.

Russian champions Rubin produced the biggest win in their history to defeat the reigning European champions with Turkish midfielder Gokdeniz Karadeniz netting a 73rd winner to stun the Camp Nou.

It was Barcelona’s first Champions League defeat since December 9 when Pep Guardiola’s side lost 3-2 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk at the group stage – although they had already qualified – and the result blows the group wide open with all four teams capable of reaching the last 16.

Barca, Rubin and Dynamo Kiev all have four points with Inter Milan on three points after a 2-2 draw with Kiev on Tuesday.

“Any team can beat another one in football,” said Guardiola. “It is a strong group with four league champions and we have to fight until the end to progress.”

Aleksandr Ryazantsev shot Russian champions Rubin into a shock lead after just 70 seconds with a fine long-range strike.

Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised for Barca showing good chest control before volleying into the corner three minutes after the break.

It was expected to be the platform for Barca to win the game but Kazan were clinical using one of their rare goalscoring chances to win the game.

“If we want to progress we have to win the next game in Russia (against Rubin Kazan),” said Ibrahimovic. “We had some good chances and hit the woodwork but didn’t have much luck.”

Rubin now have a great chance of progressing and coach Kurban Berdeyev admitted he was still getting to grips with the historic win.

“I thanked God for giving our fans a party they fully deserve,” said Berdeyev. “We didn’t think that we could win here.”

With Thierry Henry out injured Guardiola rushed back Ibrahimovic, who sat out the Valencia match at the weekend, with Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez on the flanks.

Rubin fielded third choice goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov, with his number 77 shirt hardly inspiring confidence, but he did well to thwart Andres Iniesta in the opening minute.

With 70 seconds gone Rubin stunned the partisan Camp Nou crowd, with some fans just coming into the stadium after being stuck in traffic, when Ryazantsev rifled in an unstoppable 30 yard drive.

A sloppy pass from Rafael Marquez gifted Rubin possession and Ryazantsev surprised Victor Valdes arrowing a thumping right-footed shot into the corner.

It was the first time Barcelona had gone behind in their nine games this season and provided them with a challenge.

It was a dream start for Rubin who built a barrier in front of their penalty area to try and defend their surprise lead.

The expected Barca onslaught came with Ibrahimovic squirming a tough volley wide after a great dribble and cross from Messi.

Dani Alves then drilled a shot just wide of the post and Pedro’s header was pushed clear by Ryzhikov right next to the post.

Guardiola did not make any changes at the interval and the leveller came three minutes into the second half with Ibrahimovic controlling on his chest before volleying a first time shot into the bottom corner.

The goal threw Rubin’s game-plan out of the window but Barca struggled to score a second and threw on teenage striker Bojan Krkic for Pedro in the 66th minute.

However, it was the Russians who struck again with a lightning counter attack finished off by Karadeniz in the 73nd minute.

Ibrahimovic smashed a shot against the crossbar five minutes later and Yaya Toure hit the post in stoppage time as Rubin clung on.

Barca have some tough away fixtures in freezing temperatures coming up with the return leg against Rubin in Russia on November 4 before going to Ukraine to take on Dynamo Kiev in December.

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