KARANGASEM, Indonesia – Bali international airport remained functional on Thursday, while Lombok was shut down as Mt. Agung continued spewing ash in columns as high as 2,000 meters (6,562 feet).
The director of information for the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said on social media the eruption alert level is still at its highest.
He added Lombok airport, which lies closest to the erupting Agung, was closed to safeguard against the ash damaging the engines of aircraft and leading to accidents.
Thousands of tourists were left stranded in Bali, after the Ngurah Rai International Airport was shut down Monday, resuming operations only on Wednesday afternoon.
More than 100,000 passengers have been affected by the cancelation of nearly 900 flights flying in and out of Bali.
Meanwhile, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation too retained the eruption alert at the highest level.
It also kept the safety radius to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) around Mount Agung – located in the east of the Bali island, in the district of Karangasem, far from most tourist attractions – warning of the risk of a major eruption.
On Wednesday, volcanic rocks rained over a radius of 4 kilometers from the crater following an eruption, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people.
More than 43,000 people, according to official figures, have already registered at emergency shelters in various areas of the island.
This is Mount Agung’s first volcanic eruption since 1963, when it had erupted for 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.
The Indonesian archipelago sits within the so-called “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific, an area of great seismic and volcanic activities, that experiences thousands of tremors – mostly moderate – every year.