Mount Agung eruption: Indonesia issues highest aviation warning

Mount Agung spews volcanic ash into the sky at night

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 enormous clouds of potentially life-threatening ash into the atmosphere, CNN reported.

The volcano first erupted on Tuesday, sending clouds of ash as high as 13,000ft (4000m) above the summit and bathing the mountain in an orange glow.

Hengki added that his party asks passengers to update the contact number or e-mail address listed on the ticket, so that the Garuda Indonesia can contact the passengers in case there is a change in flight schedule. An eruption in 1963 killed 1,549 people.

The Centre for Vulcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation called Saturday's activity a "minor phreatic eruption" produced by steaming water in the crater heated by magma or hot rocks.

They were now magmatic eruptions, the agency said, which means lava has forced its way to the surface.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

There is an exclusion zone around the volcano
JOHANNES CHRISTO REUTERS There is an exclusion zone around the volcano

The danger zone around Agung was also reduced from a radius of 9 to 12km from the peak in different areas, to a radius of 6 to 7.5km. The airport on neighbouring Lombok was closed later in the day, as the ash cloud was moving to the south-east of the crater towards the island.

But Bali's main Ngurah Rai airport remained open yesterday, although flights were affected.

"The airport still operates normally". However it warned that the movement of ash cloud is highly unpredictable and flights could still be cancelled at short notice.

Ayu Mas Sumantri, a top official of Karangasem Regency where the volcano is located, called on the people of Bali "not to be afraid and panic". Government officials are insistent that the island remains safe for now outside of the area immediately surrounding Mount Agung.

About 25,000 people are thought to be in shelters while more than 140,000 people fled earlier this year.


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