Volcanic plume leaves 40,000 Americans stranded in Britain

"I think there are approximately about 40,000 Americans in England who are trying to get back to this country," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "We are working closely with the State Department to examine all the opportunities that we have to speed this process along, understanding that some people may have gone on vacation, they're running out of medicine, they don't have a place to stay," he said.

Gibbs said that the White House and the US Ambassador to Britain are working together to find out ways to facilitate return of its people. "We are seeking every opportunity to help facilitate a solution to this and watching it closely." However, he said till now there has been no talk of use of naval assets like big ships to get people back home.

Meanwhile, he pointed out that President Barack Obama had to cancel his Poland trip because of the Air Force's concern relating to travel through the volcanic ash. Terming it as an unprecedented situation, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P J Crowley said: "For the most part, our citizens are managing the situation. It's unprecedented as far as I know. They're working with their airlines. They're working with travel officials."

He asked Americans in "dire circumstances" to reach embassy officials and promised "we will do what we can to help them." "But so far, as far as we can tell, Americans who are stuck in Europe are weathering this as well as you can expect," he said. Meanwhile, AccuWeather.com meteorologists said it appears the volcanic plume of Eyjafjallokull could end up shifting farther south today, potentially becoming more concentrated over the UK and possibly even reaching Germany.

"Millions of airline passengers will likely continue facing flight delays and cancellations through midweek as a result," it said. "The overall trajectory of winds at the level of the ash plume is expected to continue steering it from Iceland into the northern UK and southern Scandinavia through today. Tuesday into Wednesday, this trajectory is expected to shift farther south, sending any ash emitted by the volcano farther south through the UK and into the northern mainland of Europe. Germany and the Netherlands will be at greater risk during this time," it said.

AccuWeather stated "winds at the level of the ash plume are also expected to become more aligned Tuesday into Wednesday", which may result in plume becoming more concentrated and pose a greater threat to air travel. "This, of course, is assuming the volcano continues to erupt through then," it added.

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