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WORLD IN NATION: Volcanic ash halts flights across Europe

LONDON -- An enormous ash cloud from a remote Icelandic volcano caused the biggest flight disruption since 9/11 Thursday as it drifted over northern Europe and stranded travelers on six continents. Officials said it could take days for the skies to become safe again in one of aviation's most congested areas.

The cloud, floating miles above Earth and capable of knocking out jet engines, wrecked travel plans for tens of thousands of people, from tourists and business travelers to politicians and royals. They couldn't see the source of their frustration -- except indirectly, when the ash created vibrant red and lavender sunsets.

Non-emergency flights in Britain were canceled, and most will stay grounded until at least midday today. Authorities in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium also closed their air space. France shut down 24 airports, including the main hub of Charles de Gaulle in Paris, and several flights out of the U.S. had to double back.

Bombs kill 9 at Myanmar festival

YANGON, Myanmar -- Three bomb blasts at a holiday festival killed nine people in Myanmar's biggest city on Thursday, the deadliest attack in five years in the country ruled by an iron-fisted regime.

No indication was given as to who was behind the blasts, which occurred at about 3 p.m. near 20 pavilions erected for celebrations at the sprawling Kandawgyi Lake. Myanmar is celebrating its annual four-day water festival when people drench each other with water to usher in the Myanmar New Year on Saturday.

Television images from the site showed pools of blood and scattered sandals left behind by fleeing revelers. The television broadcast described the blasts as the handiwork of ''terrorists'' but did not blame any group or organization. No one has claimed responsibility.

Bombings rock Afghan city of Kandahar

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Two powerful bombings rocked the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Thursday, killing three foreigners and three Afghan soldiers, according to President Hamid Karzai's half brother. Meanwhile, four German soldiers were killed in fighting in the north.

NATO forces are gearing up for a major operation this summer in Kandahar -- the largest city in the Taliban-ridden south and the birthplace of the hardline Islamist movement.