Bali airport reopens as volcano rumbles

Jermaine Castillo
June 30, 2018

DENPASAR, Indonesia The Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its worldwide airport Friday, stranding thousands of travelers, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2,500-meter (8,200-feet) column of ash and smoke.

"Based on the meteorology agency prediction, the volcanic ash will reach the airport on Friday morning", airport spokesman Yanus Suprayogi said in a statement, adding that a possible extension of the airport closure after 7pm would be reviewed.

Bali's main airport has reopened after volcanic ash from Mt Agung forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and derailed tens of thousands of passengers' holiday plans on the eve of the school holidays.

Mount Agung cast a reddish glow as its summit, visible for miles around, as smoke and ash plumes shot more than 6,000feet (2,500metres) into the air.

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Virgin cancelled two flights between Sydney and Denpasar on Thursday and said another scheduled to depart the island on Friday morning faced delays.

Airlines avoid flying through volcanic ash as it can damage aircraft engines, clog fuel and cooling systems and hamper visibility.

Mount Agung, in northeastern Bali, has erupted with various intensities since late past year and in December the airport was also closed for a period and thousands were evacuated closer to the volcano.

Indonesia's second-busiest airport will stay shut until at least 7pm local time on Friday, with 85 global flights and 191 domestic flights cancelled, affecting almost 16,000 people, airport authorities said.

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Mt. Agung, about 70 kilometres northeast of Bali's tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in the year 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

In November, 150,000 local people were evacuated from the mountain and surrounds as volcanic activity intensified.

A number of flights between Australia and Bali have been cancelled or turned back due to ash from the eruption of the island's Mount Agung.

However, Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said Agung's danger status had not changed and flights were not in danger.

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The airlines will continue to assess conditions on Friday and customers have been urged to check websites. However, the authorities' warning level remains one notch below the highest advisory.

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