US says it has no plans to evacuate citizens stranded by volcano

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The Independent Travel

The US government said Tuesday it has no plans to evacuate Americans stranded in Europe because of the cloud of volcanic ash disrupting flights there.

"The Department of State is not evacuating US citizens at this time," the State Department said on its website.

"US government evacuation options are constrained by the same factors that are affecting commercial transportation," it said, recalling the tens of thousands of flights that have been cancelled in the last week.

It added that "US government-facilitated travel by sea would take time to arrange and undertake, by which point commercial travel is likely to have resumed."

It reminded US citizens that the "cost to travelers to repay an evacuation loan would be equivalent to the commercial rates for cross-Atlantic sea travel."

The State Department added that it had a "limited amount of emergency loans" for those Americans who have been stranded and run out of money, but warned of two major legal conditions.

"First, you have to have run out of private sources, and second, you need to know that we will limit the validity of your passport until you can repay the loan," the statement said.

It said applications for emergency loans must be made at the nearest US embassy.

The State Department said it had no estimates of how many Americans were stranded.

US embassies and consulates said they have been tasked with helping those who seek it.

In London, for example, the consulate used Twitter, an Internet service, to send a "tweet" listing cheaper hotels, while other diplomatic missions in Europe posted emergency information on their websites.

Information included instructions on renewing medical prescriptions.

Europe eased its aerial lockdown Tuesday with around a half of its scheduled flights taking to the skies, but more ash from Iceland's billowing volcano prolonged the agony of most stranded passengers.