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Norfolk travellers remain stranded across the globe

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:50 02 July 2010

The volcano which has caused chaos.

Pic: Tony Escritt.

The volcano which has caused chaos. Pic: Tony Escritt.

Mary Hamilton

Norfolk travellers today remained stranded across the globe as the chaos caused by a cloud of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland continued.

Norfolk travellers today remained stranded across the globe as the chaos caused by a cloud of ash from an erupting volcano in Iceland continued.

Many families are unable to get home and teachers and pupils who should be returning to school after the Easter holidays are stranded with little hope of return for several days.

The ash cloud has prevented nearly all flights including all to and from Norwich International Airport from entering or leaving the UK since noon on Thursday, wrecking travel plans and leaving thousands stranded.

Because of concerns the ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano would be sucked into engines and cause turbines to grind to a halt, most planes were due to stay on the ground until at least 7pm today.

But growing congestion on all forms of international travel means that even if flights resume tonight, it will be some time before everyone who needs to travel will be able to do so.

Two teachers from Bignold Primary School, in Norwich, are likely to be forced to remain in San Francisco until Wednesday after their flight home was turned around in mid-air.

Stephanie Moore, 26, and Emily Beck, 30, were on board a British Airways flight back to the UK on April 14 which was turned around after three-and-a-half hours in the air and landed back in San Francisco.

The pair and their friend Frances Bailey were hoping to return to celebrate Norwich City's promotion as well as family birthdays, but have now booked a flight on April 21.

Ms Moore said: "BA were fantastic that night at organising hotels for everyone, but since then there has been a bit of a communication blackout. Lots of people are being told different things.

"We visited the airport on Friday and we were offered to go on standby for a flight to Glasgow, but as there were so many people in the queue before us, we were advised we probably wouldn't get on it.

"We are now thankful we didn't opt for standby as this flight was also turned around mid-air to land back in San Francisco when they re-closed the Scottish airports."

She added: "We had a lovely 10-day break out here, but are ready to get home. We weren't anticipating and certainly can't afford a further week or more out here, especially as our insurance company has informed us they won't cover any expense incurred."

Norwich-based model academy owner Kerri Parker, who is in Majorca with three other models, said she was considering making a 40-hour train journey to get home - if she can get a ferry to mainland Spain.

"I'm desperate to get back," she said. "I have found a series of smaller trains to take me to London which involves about eight train changes and 40 hours train time.

"I can't see another way to get home and I doubt the insurance or airlines will compensate me either."

Meanwhile, a group of 26 students from two Norfolk sixth forms were due to arrive back in the county today after a long journey home by coach from Italy after their travel plans were disrupted.

Students and teachers will miss the first day of term today, and some will need to rearrange German A-level oral exams.

Ironically, the groups from Norwich-based Kett Sixth Form and Paston sixth form, in North Walsham, were on a geography trip looking at volcanoes, including Vesuvius and Pompeii.

They had been due to travel back on Friday evening, but were unable to fly and, after several changes of plan, were transferred to a coach to Florence on Saturday and at 9pm last night boarded a coach back to England.

Mr Fraser, geography teacher at Paston College, said: "They are all in reasonable spirits. The travel company have been brilliant. We were just getting used to the idea of spending an extra four days here, although we would have run out of spending money and then we were told we were getting a coach."

He added: "We have actually visited three volcanoes here."

Ü Have you or members of your family been caught up in the travel chaos? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772495 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

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