French airports closed until Monday morning

The Paris airports and about two dozen others in northern France will remain closed until at least Monday morning because of Iceland's volcanic ash cloud.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon ordered the closures extended until 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) Monday at Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and others across the northern half of the country, from Nantes on the Atlantic to Lyon in the east.

The closures began Thursday. The French civil aviation authority said it would spread the shutdowns southward Saturday afternoon, to the airports at Grenoble in the Alps and Bordeaux in southwestern France.

A few select flights were allowed to take off and land from Paris on Friday, but thousands of others have been canceled.

Fillon held an emergency meeting with top transport, health and environment officials Saturday to discuss the highly unusual air traffic freeze.

He ordered regular monitoring of air quality in France and health measures linked to the ash, but said "there is currently no health risk, because of the high altitude and the dispersion of the particles" of grit.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said after Fillon's announcement Saturday that Sarkozy was still planning to fly Sunday to Poland for the state funeral of President Lech Kaczynski.