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BBC Doesn't Blow Smoke in Volcano Coverage

Day 6: The Volcano Crisis

OK, I admittedly have a selfish interest in this getting-bigger-by-the-minute volcano story, but still wanted to extend kudos to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

As the Icelandic volcano continues to show us mortals who's really boss, getting good, up-to-date information about what (if anything) is being done to facilitate the movement of stranded air travelers all over the globe has been unnecessarily painful.

(Disclaimer: I am supposed to fly from Germany to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, so I am taking a higher-than-normal amount of interest as this bizarre drama plays out.)

Through the weekend I went to all the likely places in search of up-to-date information about this developing situation, and have been pretty disappointed. (And good luck trying to get a human being on the phone at any of these airlines.)

I was also appalled by what little the leadership in the European Union had to say over the weekend about how they intended to tackle this crisis. But with their days of rest over, hopefully they are ready to hit the ground running and engage their constituencies in this bubbling fray.

Alas, this morning when I checked in on the BBC website site I came upon this page "Volcanic cloud as it happens: 19 April."

The BBC'ers are updating virtually everything and anything about the volcano and the news spewing forth from it in real time. For instance, as I type away here, all this just moved on the site:

1001 Michael Pruchnie, a businessman stuck in Baku, Azerbaijan, says:

My decision is to stay here and wait for the situation to clear. There were some 30 foreign people stuck - 10 Brits and Indians, Norwegians and Italians.

Discussions must have sounded to the outsider as a meeting of WWII prisoner of war escaped officers trying to decide the best way to get home. No despair, just realistic assessment and free and open comments and suggestions.

0949 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Royal Navy ships will be used to transport stranded UK citizens back home.

HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean are currently moving towards an unspecified Channel port. HMS Albion is on its way to Spain.

0941 French railway company SNCF says it will offer reduced fares and 80,000 extra seats between Paris and London this week to help stranded passengers, the AFP news agency reports.

0939 The whole of Czech airspace will reopen at 1200 (1000 GMT) on Monday after being closed for three days, the authorities say.

0937Alice Pegrum, a British university student stranded in China since Saturday, writes:

We are staying at university accommodation and are not being given any information. With little money and support, we are all struggling to afford our unexpected longer stay.

I was due back at university today. Some are jeopardising their degrees by missing dissertation deadlines and important exams. We have been emailing our lecturers to inform them of our situation.

0934 The Press Association reports that thousands of UK airline workers could soon be laid off as a result of the crisis.

One of the options being considered is making staff take their holidays now, industry sources told the UK news agency.

My gosh, after being ignored by airlines, cursing politicians, and dealing with what I think to be fairly spotty reporting on this story, I suddenly feel as if I have an advocate working on my behalf to get to the bottom of what is becoming bigger news literally every second.

And isn't that exactly what we should expect from the working press?

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)