Thousands of tourists stranded as Bali volcano eruption closes airport

30 June, 2018, 18:34 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Passengers in Perth arrive at the airport to find their flights are cancelled

Volcanic ash is a potentially deadly threat to aircraft that can cause engines to "flame out".

Air New Zealand has cancelled Bali flights today due to an erupting volcano at Mount Agung.

Jetstar says: "Due to a volcanic ash cloud caused by Mount Agung in Bali, it is now not safe to operate flights to or from Denpasar Airport".

The airport was closed early Friday after a pilot flying overhead detected traces of volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet.

Passengers listen to information at Bali's worldwide airport as airlines canceled flights.

Mount Agung in northeastern Bali has been rumbling to life intermittently since late previous year and it began belching smoke and ash again on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a check yesterday evening with Changi Airport's website found that AirAsia Flight QZ508, which was scheduled to land in Singapore at 8.20pm from Denpasar airport, had been cancelled.

"We hadn't a place to stay for the night so we had to find something else, just took a taxi and stayed at a random hostel", said a stranded German backpacker who identified herself as Louisa.

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"Customers booked to travel to/from DPS (Bali) can opt to change their flights and postpone their departure up to seven days later than originally booked and are requested to contact their travel agent or booking office to make changes to their bookings", an Emirates spokesperson said.

Two other nearby airports in East Java will remain closed until 5pm (1900 AEST) local time.

Authorities were monitoring conditions, but the alert level on the volcano had not been raised so far.

"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.

Volcanic activity had only subsided by February 2018, and the Bali Tourism office announced that the volcano alert had been downgraded to a Level III.

Activity at the volcano was high last year and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, but it had been quieter this year.

An eruption at Mount Agung, about 70km from the coastal holiday area of Kuta, forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people past year.

More than 38,000 local residents were evacuated to shelters and a 12km exclusive zone placed around the volcano, which is 70km from Kuta.

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