Thousands stranded as Bali's Mt Agung eruption shuts airport

Thousands stranded as Bali's Mt Agung eruption shuts airport

The worldwide airport at Indonesia's Bali island was reopened on Friday, after authorities closed it due to a volcanic eruption the previous day, AFP reported.

"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.

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

A change in wind direction pushed the ash away from Bali's worldwide gateway, allowing flights to resume, an airport official said.

The airport will stay shut on Friday until 7 pm local time (1100 GMT), and 48 flights had been cancelled affecting 8,334 passengers, including 38 worldwide flights and 10 domestic flights, the disaster mitigation agency said in a statement.

Tourists on the island were subjected to hours of travel misery as hundreds of flights were grounded and Bali's worldwide airport was temporarily shut. Its last major eruption in 1963 killed more than 1,000 people and razed several villages.

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But at time of publication, Jetstar listed its Friday evening flights from Melbourne as "on-time" on its flight status page after Denpasar airport confirmed it had reopened.

The regional Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin, Australia, said winds would carry the ash southwest toward Java, Indonesia's most densely populated island.

AirAsia's Flight QZ509, scheduled to leave Singapore at 9.05pm to Denpasar was also cancelled.

Hundreds of passengers were queuing near the terminal of the airport to get updates from airlines, while some slept on the floor next to their baggage. However, the alert level for the volcano has not been raised and authorities are still monitoring Mount Agung, which is located in northeastern Bali.

Indonesia is the world's most active volcanic region and lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

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