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Britain planning to deploy navy to bring people home as airlines disrupted by volcanic ash

2010-04-19 10:36 BJT

LONDON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The British Prim Minister Gordon Brown called several senior members of his cabinet for an emergency meeting on Sunday to tackle the aviation crisis due to volcanic ash, planning to deploy the Royal Navy to bring home the Britons stranded abroad.

The meeting involved Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who revealed in a press conference after the meeting that Brown would call a meeting of the "Civil Contingencies Committee" in Monday morning.

Lord Adonis said it would "not be safe for flights across most of northern Europe to take place tomorrow." Earlier on Wednesday, National Air Traffic Service (NATS), the air traffic control agency in Britain, said no flights would be allowed in or out of British airspace until at least 0700 BST on Monday.

It is estimated that around 200,000 Britons were stranded abroad due to the disruption. The government are planning measures to repatriate them, which include deploying the Royal Navy, cruise ships and commercial shipping to transport passengers to the Britain if the crisis worsens.

Lord Mandelson also said Brown would talk to the Spanish government, since the country is less affected by the ash and could be used as a "hub" for stranded people to arrive in Europe by air and then continue their journey by train, coach or boat.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that Britons stranded abroad could seek for help in local British embassies, and the Foreign Office had set up a special helpline for them.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua