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Bali Mt. Agung volcanic ash spreads, airport shut down, locals and tourists worry

Bali Mt. Agung volcanic ash spreads, airport shut down, locals and tourists worry

2017-11-27, Image: Reuters

Early Monday morning, Ngurah Rai International Airport, the main gateway for tourists to Bali, has been closed and a red alert issued. Bali's Mt. Agung erupted for the second time in a week yesterday and an eruption is imminent, experts say. 

All flights to Bali have been cancelled as volcanic ash can severely damage an aircraft's engine. Airlines have issued notices and apologised for the inconvenience. However, thousands of tourists have been left stranded at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport, the island's only airport. 

The airport is scheduled to be reopened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday but will depend heavily on the situation then.

Meanwhile, the alert status of Mount Agung was upgraded from the third to the fourth level on Monday morning. 

Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark gray ash about 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the atmosphere since the weekend. Video released by the national disaster agency showed a mudflow of volcanic debris and water known as a lahar moving down the volcano’s slopes.

Authorities have widened the exclusion zone to a 10km (6 mile) radius from the volcano, and have ordered people in the area to evacuate.

They have also been distributing masks for local residents, as ash rains down in the vicinity.

About 25,000 people are thought to still be in temporary shelters after more than 140,000 people fled in recent months.

Lahars, also known as "cold lava' are slurries of rock fragments mixed with water, and have been spotted in fields and rivers near the volcano.

The spokesman for the national disaster management agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, has warned that lahars may increase due to heavy rain and as Mount Agung continues to emit pyroclastic material.

He has urged islanders to stay away from lahars as well as avoid activities near rivers.

Although the main tourist areas of Bali (Kuta, Seminyak) are proxmately 70 kms away from the exclusion zone, they have been advised to practice caution. 

 

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