Dozens of flights cancelled as Bali volcano spews smoke
Denpasar: A volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali sent plumes of grey smoke and steam thousands of metres into the air for the third day in a week on Sunday, triggering flight cancellations which have left thousands of tourists stranded, officials said.
Mount Agung spewed smoke and ash as high as 4,000 metres (13,123 feet) this morning, causing at least 28 departing or arriving flights to be delayed or cancelled, said a spokesman for Bali's airport.
Indonesia's volcanology centre has put out a red alert warning airlines of a possible eruption, with a likely significant emission of ash into the atmosphere. But as of on Sunday afternoon Bali's Ngurah Rai airport was still open.
The decision to delay or divert flight was up to individual airlines, said airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim.
"We try to make the airport as comfortable as possible for the passengers affected. So far we have provided special rooms for them to unpack their luggage and video entertainment so they can relax a bit," Ahsanurrohim told AFP.
At least 2,000 passengers are affected by the flight disruption, mostly tourists from Australia.
"I am meant to be at work tomorrow. How am I going to pay my bills?" said Sydney-based tourist Jake Vidler.
Several domestic flights have also been cancelled such as to the nearby island of Lombok, also a popular tourist destination east of Bali. The wind has blown Mount Agung's ash in that direction.
"I've received a refund from my airline. Now I'm trying to go to Lombok by boat, hopefully the harbour is open," said Ismono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing nearly 1,600 people.