Volcanic ash shuts down Bali airport

Ground staff secure the plane, anticipating ash fall at Bali’s airport. Photo: BNPB

UPDATE: Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport back open after brief shutdown over volcanic ash

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has been shut down after an eruption from the island’s Mount Agung on Thursday.

The airport was closed at 3am and will remain shutdown until 7pm on Friday, when its status will be further reviewed.

A pilot report detected volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet and winds have been blowing in a southwesterly direction. Located in Bali’s eastern regency of Karangasem, Mount Agung is about 75 kilometers northeast of the tourist hub of Kuta and the airport.

“Based on the meteorology agency prediction, the volcanic ash will reach the airport on Friday morning,” airport spokesman Yanus Suprayogi stated.

Ash can be dangerous for planes, making the runaway slippery and can get sucked into aircraft’s engines.

At least 48 flights have reportedly been cancelled due to the eruption, affecting more than 8,000 passengers.

In addition to Ngurah Rai Airport’s closure, airports in Banyuwangi and Jember, East Java have both been closed until 5pm and reopen pending review after that time.

The volcano’s alert status has not been raised and is holding steady at level III (standby), the second highest level and the country’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency has not called for evacuation of surrounding areas.

Before stirring back to life last year, Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing around 1,600 people.

With additional reporting from AFP.

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