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TRAVELERS HURRY OUT OF ALASKA DURING BREAK IN VOLCANIC ASHFALL

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A brief lull in the outpouring of ashes from the erupting volcano Redoubt enabled some stranded travelers to fly out of Alaska as the cloud of ash headed south into the Lower 48 states.

The volcano's bursts of explosive activity turned into a steady eruption Sunday, spurting ash that mixed with falling snow and stranded many travelers whose flights were canceled for safety reasons.Air traffic ground to a halt Friday afternoon after ash was sucked into all four engines of an approaching KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 747, which plunged from 25,000 feet to 12,000 feet in 12 minutes before the crew restarted the engines.

A rescue helicopter pilot braved the cloud of ash Sunday to pluck a winter caretaker couple and their baby from Tuwalaka Lodge just 10 miles from the volcano.

"I liked it out there until the volcano started going," Nancy Jones said as she got off the helicopter in Anchorage. Another couple remained at a fishing lodge about 17 miles from Redoubt and had not asked to be flown out.

Airborne ash particles were moving south, drifting in high-level winds to Pacific Northwest states, the National Weather Service said.

The 10,197-foot volcano, 110 miles southwest of Anchorage, was in a state of constant low-level eruption, marked by bigger blasts, the latest at 1:04 p.m. Alaska time Sunday, which sent a fountain of ash 28,000 feet in the air, said geologist John Paskievitch of the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

The plume was reported by a passing airliner, one of a number of flights that hustled passengers out of Anchorage during a lull in ashfall and a break in the massive ash cloud that has been disrupting air traffic.

Following the blast, the Federal Aviation Administration warned that ashfall may be heavy and advised airlines to scrap hastily patched together flight plans.

Even before the latest explosion, the FAA reported an ash cloud 400 miles long, from the volcano to the Canadian border, and several hundred miles wide, spokesman Paul Steucke said.

Winds sent new ash to the northeast - directly toward Anchorage. High-level winds captured lighter ash particles and held them captive for a journey southeast to Canada, into the air above Washington state and across the United States, NWS meteorologist Elliott Barske said.

"Eventually it's going to fall, but no one's going to notice it," Barske said. "It probably won't be noticed by anybody. The real fine stuff will go around the world. It doesn't come down. It just keeps on going."