French urged to put up compatriots stranded in the US

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France called Monday on nationals residing in the United States to put up thousands of compatriots left stranded by the European airspace closures.

The French embassy in Washington said at least 12,000 citizens were stuck in the United States after ash spewed by a volcano in Iceland shut down much of the airspace over Europe.

The embassy counted 6,000 French stuck in New York, 2,000 around Los Angeles, 1,500 in the Washington area and others spread through the United States.

In Canada, between 2,000 and 3,000 French tourists were stranded in the city of Montreal alone.

The crisis prompted the French consulate in Washington to send out a general call to citizens living in Washington, Philadelphia or Baltimore to help out by accommodating those stranded until normal flights resume.

"We're looking for families in the area of these three cities who would agree to put up their countrymen in difficulty," the message from the embassy said, calling on French expatriates to distribute it widely.

In Canada, French tourists trapped in a Montreal airport since last week demanded special flights to take them home.

The ash cloud produced by the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has snarled air traffic across Europe, stranding passengers across the world.

European and international agencies are set to ease flight restrictions on Tuesday after around 30 countries closed or restricted their airspace due to passenger safety fears.

© 2010 AFP

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