30,000 Irish people stranded abroad

It is now estimated that as many as 30,000 Irish people could be stranded abroad, unable to get home.

The Government's Taskforce on Emergency Planning said that thousands of passengers are making their way home and that capacity is available on ferries.

Some 1,100 people contacted the crisis response centre established by the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday. The centre can be contacted on 01 4082999.

The Irish Aviation Authority said changes to the size and density of the ash cloud over Ireland would allow it to reopen some airspace.

Airlines have been given permission to fly over Ireland but must stick to strict flight paths above 20,500 feet, authorities said.

The IAA said Dublin Airport will remain closed for all commercial flights until 7pm tonight but it has given the go-ahead for Shannon Airport to reopen from lunchtime.

Cork airport will also remain closed until further assessments are made later today.

Aviation chiefs said they will provide updates on flight zones and restrictions at 3.30pm.

Meanwhile, the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning said air quality was not being affected by the ash cloud and falling particles will pose only minimal health risks.

“The taskforce were advised by the HSE (Health Service Executive) that advice from the European Centre for Disease Control indicates that the amount of ash likely to come to ground in the coming days is minimal, if any, and impact on health will be equally minimal,” the body said.

The taskforce will meet again tomorrow at 10am.

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