JAKARTA (Reuters) – Ash from a volcanic eruption forced the closure of the international airport on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Friday, as Mount Agung volcano became active again after a lull since late last year.
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 international flights and 10 domestic flights, the disaster mitigation agency said in a statement.
The eruption sent an ash column of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) into the air and a reddish flame was visible in Mount Agung’s crater, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency said in the statement.
Mount Agung, in northeastern Bali, has erupted with various intensities since late last year and in December the airport was also closed for a period and thousands were evacuated closer to the volcano.
Authorities were monitoring conditions, but the alert level on the volcano had not been raised so far.
Airlines avoid flying through volcanic ash as it can damage aircraft engines, clog fuel and cooling systems and hamper visibility.
Air Asia, Jet Star, Qantas and Virgin were among the airlines that had cancelled flights, Nugroho said.
Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; writing by Ed Davies; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore