As a result of a volcanic eruption from Mount Agung, Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport shut down at 7am on Monday, stranding more than 5,000 travelers.
The volcano’s alert status was raised to the highest level on Monday and the exclusion zone was extended after Agung belched thick gray smoke more than two miles into the sky early this morning, prompting fears of a much larger eruption, volcanologists said.
The airport will be shut down for at least 24 hours—so until Tuesday at 7am—then the airport’s status will be reevaluated every six hours thereafter before it is allowed to reopen.
Three domestic airlines servicing Bali’s airport were impacted by the shutdown, including Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia, and Lion Air. Between the three airlines, there were meant to be 13 departing flights (1,491 passengers) and 15 arrivals (1,032 passengers), according to data released by airport manager Angkasa Pura I.
While for international airlines, at least eight airlines providing 26 departing flights and 22 arrivals were affected, including Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Virgin Air, AirAsia, Lion Air, KLM, JetStar, and Philippine Air.
“As for international departures, the number of passengers is 3,698 people,” said airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim.
Together with domestic flights, that makes an estimated 5,189 stranded passengers. A post to Instagram shows the usually bustling airport looking like a ghost town.
Given the situation the hashtag #stuckinBali is trending again (it was big in 2015 when Mount Rinjani similarly stranded thousands), with holiday-makers posting pictures of their extended vacations thanks to Agung.
We’ve got to sympathize with them, because an extended stay in Bali means more time and money spent, especially if you’re not covered by insurance, but there are worst places to be stuck after all.