TRAVEL chaos caused by a massive plume of volcanic ash may last for the rest of the week, a government taskforce has warned. Weather conditions are not expected to change significantly until Friday, leaving little chance the ash cloud will be blown away from Irish airspace.

Tens of thousands of passengers remained stranded at Irish airports and overseas with rail and ferry businesses booked to full capacity.

Airplanes were grounded with Ryanair saying the "unprecedented" situation had forced them to cancel all flights until Monday at the earliest. A government taskforce on emergency planning met yesterday morning to discuss the crisis and said it was impossible to predict when the disruptions would end.

The enormous cost to the Irish economy cannot yet be calculated, with both major carriers forced to cancel hundreds of flights. The taskforce has said there does not appear to be any health risk and that air quality remains unchanged.