A flight information board shows cancelled flights at the airport Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 27.
(AP Photo/Ketut Nataan)
Tens of thousands of passengers are still stuck on the Indonesian island of Bali after the authorities extended the closure of Bali’s international airport by the nearby volcanic activity.
Airport officials have announced that the Ngurah Rai International Airport will remain closed for a further 24 hours for reasons of safety, such as volcanic ash of Mount Agung which reaches a height of 30,000 feet — remains a threat for outbound flights.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, National Disaster Mitigation Agency, shared the news early on Tuesday morning, although he stated that the nearby International Airport of Lombok, the neighboring island of Lombok, had reopened.
Penutupan Bandara Day I Gusti Ngurah Rai Bali diperpanjang. Bandara closed help to 29/11/2017, 07:00 ABOUT. Sedangkan Bandara Day Lombok, dibuka kembali ranging from 28/11/2017 at 06:00 ABOUT. Evaluasi terus dilakukan by otoritas bandara. #bali #Bali pic.twitter.com/18ZUOFulbZ
— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_BNPB) 27 November 2017
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Tourists, meanwhile, still at a loss for what to do. “I don’t know, we can’t change it,” a German tourist Gina Camp told the Associated Press by a bank at the airport. “It is nature and we have to wait until it’s over.”
Bali’s Mount Agung is spewing smoke and ash since Saturday, the AP reports, and the lava is welling up in the crater. A potentially dangerous mudflow known as a lahar which is made of volcanic debris mixed with water, has already begun to flow down the mountain, and the indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency is of the opinion that it is only a matter of time before the lava spills “the slopes”.
Indonesia’s volcanology center has had since issued a red alert for all airlines, warning of large amounts of ash into the atmosphere for miles around, Sky News reports. And on Monday morning, officials closed the Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport) in Bali for 24 hours. A nearby airport on the Indonesian island of Lombok was already closed from Sunday, The Telegraph adds.
Several airlines, and had been confirmed as of Sunday that flights from Bali would be cancelled. Garuda Indonesia, the national airline, has further responded to a concerned traveler via Twitter with the news that Denpasar would be closed at least until 7:00 pm and on Tuesday morning.
We continue to closely monitor the Mountain Agung in Bali. As a result of increased volcanic ash and the current weather, Denpasar Airport is now closed and we have cancelled today’s flights. More info here: https://t.co/LD8rC5LZdZ
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) On 26 November 2017
[Travel update] All Bali flights cancelled today: https://t.co/ipKqIREb0H #MountAgung #volcano
Our experienced pilots will have an opinion on tomorrow’s flights, and we will have our next update 7 hours tonight.
— Jetstar Airways (@JetstarAirways) On 26 November 2017
Airport officials said that the revision of their decision to six hours, according to Buzzfeed News. As of Monday afternoon local time at least 445 flights were cancelled and 59 thousand passengers affected. A spokesman for the airport confirmed the numbers on Tuesday, AP reports.
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Hundreds of hopeful tourists, meanwhile, have reportedly been waiting at Ngurah Rai since Monday, according to the photos taken at the airport.
Still not sunk in for the passengers that the Bali airport will be closed until at least 7 pm tomorrow pic.twitter.com/VxzcXOOAEb
— Adam Harvey (@adharves) 27 November 2017
@JetstarAirways flight from Townsville to Denpasar cancelled by the ash of Mt Agung. A lot of angry travelers. @tsv_bulletin pic.twitter.com/XYh1hQBa6U
— Jacob Miley (@MileyJacob) 25 November 2017
A stranded passenger who spoke to Sky News said that they, like other tourists, were aware of the risks of travel to Bali.
“Yes, I had knowledge, and, as with everything, there is a risk,” said Chelsea Of The Ven. “I took the risk and got stranded, but hopefully we get by.”
Mount Agung can be seen erupting in Bali, Indonesia, on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.
(AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
Another woman claimed on Twitter that she checked out of her hotel and went on our way to the airport, only to return and re-check in at the hotel, because there was no other way to learn when or if the airport had reopened. She says she will probably do the same thing again tomorrow.
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The National Disaster Mitigation Agency says the volcano’s “danger zone” consists of 22 villages and a number of 90,000-100,000 people. Authorities are trying to move them to the island evacuation centres, which were already housing around 25,000 other evacuees who had moved in the following tremors in September.
Mount Agung’s last major eruption occurred in 1963, and claimed the lives of about 1,100 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.