Mount Agung ash cloud forces closure of Bali airport

Mount Agung ash cloud forces closure of Bali airport

The Indonesian government has closed Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali as Mount Agung continues to pump potentially dangerous ash into the atmosphere.

At the same time authorities have raised the state of alert to its highest level, and expanded the exclusion zone around the rumbling volcano.

The decision to close the airport will leave thousands of holidaymakers stranded in the tourism hotspot.

At present, the airport is scheduled to reopen at 07:00 on Tuesday, local time.

The decision to close the airport was taken after careful consideration by national aviation authorities, the Centre for Geological Disaster Mitigation and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, authorities said.

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While there is little sign of volcanic ash in the southern regions of Bali, evidence of volcanic ash at higher altitudes on aviation approach and departure paths has prompted the decision to close the airport.

Authorities say the quality of the atmosphere over Bali as it affects aviation safety is under continuous review.

Officials advise that people in south Bali - an area some 60-70 kilometres from the volcano - are in no direct threat from the volcano’s eruption.

The “danger zone” is a small area with a radius of approximately ten kilometres from Mount Agung’s crater.

All tourist activities and trekking activities near Mount Agung have been suspended until further notice.

A statement from the Bali Tourism Hospitality Task Force read: “Tourist visitors in Bali are reminded there is no reason to panic and are advised to stay in their hotels where the hotel management and the relevant government agencies will keep them fully informed on developments.

“Those who were scheduled to check out from their hotel on Monday or Tuesday should contact the hotel’s reception as most hotels are providing the best available commercial rate for those needing to extend their stay.”

Visitors with an urgent need to continue their journey are being urged to consider an overland journey by bus and ferry from Bali to Surabaya (approximately 12 hours) – the nearest international airport.

Hotels and tour operators can assist in making such arrangements.

In a statement ABTA added: “We are closely monitoring the activity of volcano Mount Agung on the island of Bali, which is around 71 kilometres from the nearest major tourist destination of Kuta.

“Mount Agung has been erupting since November 21st and local authorities have raised the state of alert to the highest level.

“There will only be a relatively small number of UK holidaymakers on the island at this time of year.

“ABTA advises that people on holiday in the region should monitor news reports, follow the advice from local authorities and stay outside the existing exclusion zone, which extends between eight to ten kilometres from the crater.

“Volcanic ash clouds could continue to cause flight disruption and may result in further airport closures in the region.

“Anyone due to travel to the region imminently should check with their travel provider or airline to establish if their holiday or flight is affected.”