JAKARTA – The Ngurah Rai international airport on the Indonesian island of Bali, as well as the airport on the close by island of Lombok, remain closed for the second consecutive day due the possibility of a major eruption of Agung volcano, which has been ejecting ash and lava for days.
“The closure of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport is extended. The airport is closed until 29/11/2017 (...) Evaluations continue to be made by the airport authorities,” the director of information for the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said in a statement.
Nugroho, in several messages posted on Twitter, also noted that Agung continues to erupt and spew water vapor and ash between 2,000 and 3,400 meters high above the crater, in addition to the seismic activity in the area.
A report from the local aviation authority indicated that “the plane routes have been covered by volcanic ash,” which could affect the engines of the aircraft and cause an accident.
The Bali airport on Monday canceled 445 domestic and international flights, leaving at least 59,000 passengers stranded.
The Indonesian authorities reported Monday that they plan to evacuate between 90,000 and 100,000 people living in a safety radius of 10 kilometers around Mount Agung, after the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) raised the eruption alert to the highest level.
At least 22 towns near the mountain have been affected by the ash, and the authorities have recommended the use of protective masks for the population.
Located in the east of the island, in the district of Karangasem, Mount Agung is far from most tourist attractions.
This is Mount Agung’s first volcanic eruption since 1963, when the ejection of magma lasted almost a year and caused more than 1,100 deaths.
Bali is the main tourist destination in Indonesia, with an annual influx of around 5.4 million foreign tourists, according to official data.
Since Sept. 22, the Agung eruption alert has cost the Balinese tourist industry 20 trillion rupees ($1.47 billion), according to Nugroho.
The Indonesian archipelago sits within the so-called “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that is shaken by thousands of tremors every year, most of small magnitude.