BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Stiff winds blew ash from a Chilean volcano Tuesday in a widening arc across Argentina to the capital, grounding most air travel in the country for much of the day.
Airborne ash can severely damage jet engines, and the state-owned airlines Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral canceled all flights.
At least six international carriers also suspended flights between Buenos Aires and cities in the United States, Europe, and South America, and flights from Chile over Argentine territory also were suspended.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Aerolineas announced it was slowly resuming flights from Buenos Aires to the north and east, areas beyond the reach of the thickest part of the plume. Chile's LAN Air Lines also was resuming flights over Argentine territory.
Airports closer to the volcano were ordered closed through at least Sunday.
Geologists said the Cordon Caulle volcano could keep erupting for weeks.
The ash cloud was blowing well to the south and away from Chile's capital, Santiago, but as a precaution, at least four international carriers there also suspended flights across Argentina to Buenos Aires, Brazil, Uruguay, and Europe.
The closest major city to the volcano is San Carlos de Bariloche, just over the border in Argentina, where abrasive soot coated slopes in a string of resorts that depend on the winter ski season, opening in less than two weeks.
The plume then stretched northeast before curving east, dumping ash over Argentina's vast ranchlands before reaching the capital and even Paraguay, north of Argentina.
Transportation officials met with representatives of Argentina's meteorological service, civil aviation board, and airport regulator to figure out where the ash cloud would move next and what to do about it, the transportation department said in a statement.
Closer to the volcano, strong rains that began Monday night increased the danger of rivers getting clogged with ash and then overflowing in flash floods. Evacuations were expanding, with more than 4,000 people already fleeing their homes.