Will the world's political elite make it to funeral of Polish President?

Volcanic ash cloud closes Warsaw airport ahead of tomorrow's state event

The cloud of Icelandic volcanic ash drifting south east across Europe threatens to disrupt tomorrow's planned state funeral of Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife.

Authorities closed main airports in Warsaw and northern Poland yesterday morning and by the afternoon they had shut the main airport in the southern city of Krakow, where the funeral is due to be held in the Wawel castle – the resting place of poets, kings and patriots including Marshal Pilsudski whose forces defeated an invading Soviet army in 1920.

Scores of world leaders, including President Barrack Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled to attend the event which will be the highpoint of ceremonies mourning the deaths of the president and 95 senior military and political figures killed in last Saturday's devastating air crash in western Russia.

Poland's presidential palace spokesman, Jacek Sasin, insisted yesterday that the funeral was still on course to take place. "The will of the family is that under no circumstances should the date of the funeral ceremonies be changed and that they should go ahead as planned," he said.

His remarks raised the possibility that Poland would be forced to hold tomorrow's burial service without most of the world leaders who have pledged to attend.

Brian Flynn of Eurocontrol in Brussels said yesterday that the situation was "constantly evolving" and that a decision on whether allow flights into Poland tomorrow would be taken with 24 hours. "We are in touch will all those concerned," he added.

But Mr Sasin, the presidential spokesman, was emphatic: "Respect for the dead and for all those involved in the preparations does not allow for change," he said.

Tomorrow's funeral will be preceded by a major ceremony for the other crash victims in central Warsaw today.

The authorities in Krakow said that 80 flights carrying world leaders, including Mr Obama's Air Force One, would have to land at the city's airport during a six-hour period tomorrow morning. The White House said yesterday that the US President was still intending to fly to Krakow despite the threat posed by volcanic ash. A spokesman for Prince Charles, who is to represent Britain at the funeral also said that there had as yet not been any plans to call off the Prince's visit.

However, given the current south easterly airflow over Europe, meteorologists were predicting that the ash cloud would cover the entire upper atmosphere over Poland today.

The plane carrying the president and his party crashed in thick fog in woods outside Smolensk airport in western Russia last Saturday after the pilot ignored warnings not to land. They had been en route to a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which 22,000 Polish officers were murdered by Stalin's secret police in 1940. The crash was described as the country's worst political tragedy since the Second World War.

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home