Flights disrupted as Bali volcano spews ash

Indonesia orders immediate evacuation as highest alert issued for Bali volcano

Airlines have been issued a "red warning" about the danger of volcanic ash in the skies close to Bali after Mount Agung emitted a thick plume of smoke reaching 4000m.

It is the second major emission from the Indonesian island's volcano this week, and flights have been disrupted. The last time Mount Agung erupted, in 1963, more than 1,000 people died.

In addition, Agus Santoso, director general for air transportation at the Ministry of Transportation, told reporters that the Lombok International Airport on Lombok "has been temporarily closed for flights for an indefinite period since 16.15" due to the volcanic ash.

Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas announced flight cancellations as they are unwilling to risk flying through ash to reach their destination, with customers forced to sleep at Ngurah Rai International Airport.

"Mount Agung has erupted 18 times and we are used to such a condition", he said, while still urging people to prepare backpacks containing masks, flashlights, jackets and glasses.

There have been no new evacuations in Bali and a six kilometre exclusion zone around the volcano has not been extended.




According to the Volcanic Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) system, winds carried the ash in an eastern and southeastern direction.

Most of the islanders outside the immediate exclusion zone were ordered to return home at the end of September, and the mountain has been intermittently rumbling since.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency tweeted that an ash column from Mount Agung coated a nearby village in a thin layer of ash on Saturday.

According to media reports, an estimated 25,000 people still live in temporary shelters after increased volcanic activity prompted fears of a major eruption forcing 140,000 local residents to flee the area.

Indonesia sits on the "Pacific Ring of Fire" and has more than 120 active volcanoes. During that period, eruptions lasted nearly a year and caused more than 1,100 dead.

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