- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2011

SANTIAGO, CHILE (AP) - The Chilean government says a volcano in southern Chile that began erupting about two weeks ago is becoming less active. That will allow 4,000 people who were evacuated near the volcano to return home.

The cloud of ash had soared 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) over the Andean mountain range but has since shrunk to a quarter that size.

The ash is still floating around the world and spurred the suspension Sunday of flights in South Africa. The eruption had suspended flights in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand.

Silicate crystals and gases in the volcanic cloud can damage airplane equipment such as speed and altitude sensors, and stall jet engines.