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Ash from Chile volcano blows across Argentina, disrupting air travel in the region (VIDEO)

Airports begin to open, but concerns about ash cloud persist

Flights in South America were resuming late on Tuesday, after being disrupted by clouds of ash from an erupting volcano in Chile, BBC News reported.

Argentina's main airport in Buenos Aires had reopened, though some smaller airports remained closed. Ash blowing across Argentina after the Puyehue volcano began erupting on Friday had grounded most air travel to and from the country for much of the day, the Associated Press reported:

Since airborne ash can severely damage jet engines, Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral, the country's state-owned international and domestic airlines, canceled all flights within Argentina as well as to and from other countries. At least six international carriers also suspended flights between Buenos Aires and cities in the United States, Europe and South America, and flights from Chile over Argentine territory also were suspended.

This was the first serious eruption of the Puyehue volcano since 1960, when the area was hit by a massive earthquake. The volcano is about 500 miles south of Santiago in the Andes mountains. The eruption prompted Chilean authorities to order the relocation of at least 3,500 people as it sent a huge ash cloud into the sky, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many people have refused to evacuate despite living below the volcano, according to the Associated Press. Michael Dobbs, a volcano expert at the University of Santiago, said that could be fatal, explaining that the "eruptive column," more than 6 miles high, could collapse, suddenly releasing molten lava, toxic gases and other material measuring on communities below.

On Tuesday, Argentine officials were monitoring the spread of the ash, which had been blown across the Andes, and they were expressing concern that some volcanic pollution could reach Buenos Aires province and the capital, BBC News reported.

Ski slopes in the Argentine resort of Bariloche, about 60 miles east of the volcano, were blanketed in ash. Shifting winds have pushed the ash cloud back and forth across southern Argentina and Chile.