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Stranded Maltese taking trains to Rome to come to Malta

The Foreign Ministry is trying to provide what assistance it can to hundreds of Maltese travellers trapped abroad by the air traffic disruption over Europe.

A ministry spokesman said the biggest number of Maltese were stranded in London and Brussels. Malta's diplomatic offices there are assisting travellers by providing information on the current flights situation and forecasts. Some assistance has also been given on hotel availability.

But the Foreign Ministry itself has been the victim of the current chaos. Malta's ambassador to Poland was stuck in Istanbul on his way to Poland, and missed the funeral of the Polish President on Sunday. So, too, did 50 of the 56 ambassadors who had been due to attend.

The ministry spokesman said it was hoped that some Maltese may be able to fly out of London tomorrow.

Quite a number of Maltese, particularly those trapped in Brussels since last Tuesday, drove down or took trains to Rome, from where they could take Air Malta's extra flights to Malta. There was at least one case of people driving all the way down from Brussels to Sicily for the ferry.

The disruption has been caused by a cloud of ash spewed from a volcano in Iceland. Thousands of flights were cancelled across Europe, and the British Royal Navy this morning said it was deploying ships, including the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the assault ship Ocean, to pick up Britons stranded on the continent.

A Maltese woman has also been trapped in Iceland itself, since practically all flights to Europe has been cancelled.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the volcano is producing less ash.

Air Malta said today that apart from the extra flights to Rome, it is also operating extra flights to Toulouse, Gratz and Marseille.

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