Thousands flee from deadly Bali volcano

Source:Agencies Published: 2017/11/28 21:38:39

Shelters fill up as Agung eruption looms

Evacuation centers and hotels in Bali filled up Tuesday with thousands seeking refuge as a volcano on the Indonesian resort island threatened to explode in a major eruption, forcing the airport to close for a second day.

Stranded tourists hunted for accommodation while frightened villagers living in Mount Agung's shadow made their way to more than 200 evacuation centers as the mountain belched smoke and ash.

The rumbling volcano - which last erupted in 1963, killing around 1,600 people - forced authorities to close Bali's airport again Tuesday as experts raised the alert level to maximum.

Towering columns of thick grey smoke have been rising from the crater since last week, and in the last few days have begun shooting as high as four kilometers (2.5 miles), forcing all flights to be grounded until at least Wednesday.

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

The volcano, which looms over one of the world's top holiday spots, could produce a thunderous eruption at any moment, officials have warned.

"The potential is there because magma is at the surface," said Kasbani, the head of the country's volcanology center, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Some 40,000 people have abandoned their homes in the danger zone but as many as 100,000 will likely be forced to leave, disaster agency officials have said.

There is a 10-kilometer exclusion zone around Agung, which is 75 kilometers from the beachside tourist hub of Kuta.

As of Tuesday around 440 flights had been cancelled, affecting more than 120,000 passengers in Bali, which attracts millions of tourists every year.

"We are supposed to go back to Germany via Singapore on (Friday) but the situation seems not good," said marooned student Alex Thamm.

"Aircraft flight channels are covered with volcanic ash," the transport ministry said in a statement, citing aviation navigation authorities.

Bali's airport, about 60 kilometers from the Mount Agung volcano, will be closed until 7 am on Wednesday (23:00 GMT on Tuesday), it said.

Frustration at the country's second-busiest airport was starting to boil over, with an estimated 2,000 people attempting to get refunds and reschedule tickets.


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