Bali Volcano Shuts Down Flights, Sends Residents Scrambling to Safety

Bali Volcano Shuts Down Flights, Sends Residents Scrambling to Safety

Bali Volcano Shuts Down Flights, Sends Residents Scrambling to Safety

Authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from 224 points on the Indonesian island of Bali this weekend after the eruption of Mount Agung, which spewed very big clouds of potentially life-threatening ash into the atmosphere, CNN reported.

"At 6.20am (local time), the eruption reached between 3,000 and 4,000m from the summit with the ash moving in a southeast direction at a speed of 18km an hour", said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a statement on Sunday morning.

Mount Agung photos taken from kubu - karangasem.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said ash clouds were moving away from the worldwide airport, which remained open, The Guardian reported.

After Saturday's eruption, which produced a bigger ash cloud than the initial one on Tuesday, Singapore updated its travel advisory for the island, warning that ash clouds could "severely disrupt air travel". It is still gushing and the dark grey clouds are moving toward the neighbouring island of Lombok, a direction that is away from Bali's airport, where almost all scheduled domestic and global flights were continuing Sunday.

However, he said some airlines chose to cancel flights between Bali and Australia following the latest volcanic activity.

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At least four airlines - Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, Jetstar Australia, Thai Lion Air and Virgin Australia - cancelled a total of 43 flights Sunday.

Mount Agung's alert status was raised to the highest in September following a dramatic increase in tremors from the volcano, which doubled the exclusion zone around the crater and prompted more than 140,000 people to leave the area.

An exclusion zone of 7.5km (4.5 miles) remains in place for those near the volcano, with authorities distributing masks to those in close proximity to smoke.

Magma - molten rock - has now been detected close to the volcano's surface, said officials and volcanologists.

The mountain's last major eruption occurred in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.

Many of Indonesia's 130 volcanoes show high levels of activity.

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