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Indonesia volcano threat shuts Bali airport for second day

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A fisherman drives a traditional boat as Mount Agung erupts seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on November 28, 2017. Indonesian authorities extended the closure of the international airport on the resort island of Bali for a second day over fears of a volcanic eruption. / AFP PHOTO / SONNY TUMBELAKA

Indonesian authorities on Tuesday extended the closure of the international airport on the resort island of Bali for a second day due to ash gushing from the nearby Mount Agung volcano.

Ngurah Rai International Airport will be closed for another 24 hours “considering the impact of ash from Mount Agung,” said airport spokesman, Arie Ahsanurrohim.

Following a series of eruptions, authorities on Monday raised the warning alert for the volcano to the highest level and ordered the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people.

The international airport on the nearby resort island of Lombok reopened on Tuesday morning, said Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

It was closed on Sunday after ash from the volcano drifted to the area.

Sutopo said the volcano continued to erupt overnight.

“Rays of fire could be seen at night. There have also been incessant tremors,” he said.

Ahsanurrohim said Tuesday’s closure affected 443 flights to and from Bali, stranding about 60,000 passengers.

The alert for the volcano was last raised to the highest level on Sept. 22, prompting more than 130,000 people to flee their homes and seek refuge in temporary shelters fearing an imminent eruption.
But late October, authorities downgraded the alert a notch after a steady decrease in activity.

Bali’s civil protection agency said there were now about 40,000 evacuees in different locations.

Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist from Denison University in the U.S., wrote in a blog post that the volcano was in “full eruption.’’

He said ash falls and volcanic mudflows triggered by ash mixing with rainfall could pose real danger.

“Ash is falling in the area around the volcano as well, so people living near Agung should be cautious going outside without proper breathing protection,” he said.

The 3,031-metre Mount Agung last erupted for a period of almost a year in 1963 and 1964, killing about 1,200 people.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for seismic upheavals and volcanic eruptions.


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