Bali volcano ash shuts airport, stranding passengers

Mount Agung is known to be an active volcano in the island with its last eruption occurring in November 2017

Mount Agung is known to be an active volcano in the island with its last eruption occurring in November 2017

The Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its worldwide airport on Friday, stranding thousands of travellers, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2,500-metre column of ash and smoke.

The budget airline said in a statement that the Ngurah Rai International Airport was closed today, from 3 am to 7 pm (same time as in Malaysia). It said almost 450 flights were cancelled, affecting 75,000 people.

"We are monitoring the advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and our team of senior pilots and meteorologists will make an assessment when flights can be resumed", it reads.

The major reason for cancelling the flights during a volcanic eruption is that it can damage engines, clog fuel and can even hamper visibility.

Air New Zealand has cancelled Bali flights today due to an erupting volcano at Mount Agung.

The eruption, which began on Thursday, fired a towering column of ash 2,500 metres (8,200ft) into the sky, and reddish flames lit up the volcano's crater overnight.

There was no indication of how long the eruption might last, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the disaster mitigation agency said in a statement, and the alert level on the volcano remains unchanged for now. Authorities lowered its alert status from the highest level in February.

The initial numbers given were almost 450 flights cancelled and 75,000 travellers affected.

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Ash is risky for planes as it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.

Mount Agung spews volcanic ash into the air.

Operations at Bali's airport were disrupted for more than week in early December, stranding thousands of visitors before winds changed to blow the smoke away and the volcano calmed down.

The volcano is about 75 kilometres from Bali's tourist hub in Kuta.

The return flight NZ246 from Denpasar to Auckland has also been cancelled.

"Well it's Bali, these things happen and we are fine with it".

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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