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Paris airports close as volcanic ash clouds northern Europe

The French capital's main airports are due to shut Thursday evening as a huge cloud of ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland sweeps across northern Europe, grounding flights throughout the continent.

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France’s civil aviation agency decided to close Paris's two main airports and 23 others in France on Thursday as a cloud of volcanic ash swept over Europe from Iceland, aviation officials said.

Charles de Gaulle and Orly, the capital's two main airports, were due to shut by 11pm (GMT+2) at the latest, while other airports in the north of the country started shutting at 3pm (GMT+2), the DGAC aviation authority said. The ash cloud was expected to reach French airspace by midnight.

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FRANCE 24 correspondent Christophe Robeet reporting from Charles de Gaulle airport called the move “a pretty drastic decision”, predicting that “airspace in France will be closed for a while now”.

Airports stretching from Brittany in the north-west to the eastern border with Germany were being shut down as a "security measure," the DGAC said, adding that prospective passengers should contact their airlines.

Air France said it had cancelled 100 of its 1,700 daily flights. According to Robeet, the company was working to provide accommodation and reserve flights for passengers stranded at the airport, many of whom had started to leave after giving up hope that flight departures would resume shortly.

French authorities had earlier cancelled flights to Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Moscow after the ash from Iceland blew eastwards across the North Atlantic, closing major airports more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) away from the volcano site in the south-east of the country.

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