Baby flown under ash cloud for surgery
A ROYAL Flying Doctor Service jet has raced beneath a volcanic ash cloud over Western Australia to get a baby to Melbourne for life-saving surgery.
The plane was due to fly the baby east today, but the ash plume from a Chilean volcano brought forward its departure to about 1 pm (WST) on Wednesday.
RFDS spokesperson Lesleigh Green told AAP the baby had had severe heart defects since birth and needed highly specialised surgery that was not available in Perth.
The ash cloud was moving north-east across Western Australia's south-west region and the jet flew under it at 12,000 feet to refuel in Kalgoorlie before heading to Melbourne.
Ms Green said other RFDS aircraft in south-west WA had been instructed to fly under the plume at 12,000 feet on Wednesday.
The problem could worsen on Thursday, she said.
"We've just got to work our way around it. It just really depends on where the cloud is and where it's going."
Northern WA was not affected, but aircraft might be diverted to Darwin if medical flights from the north to Perth were not possible on Thursday, Ms Green said.