JAKARTA – More than a dozen flights were canceled on Indonesia’s island of Bali on Saturday due to an ash cloud emitted by a fresh eruption of Mount Agung volcano.
The eruption, which lasted four-and-a-half minutes, was accompanied by a loud rumbling and spread lava and incandescent rocks three kilometers from the crater, national disaster management agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.
Flights to and from Bali operated by Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia Airlines and Jetstar Airways were canceled, and a Jetstar flight between Adelaide and Bali’s capital Denpasar was diverted to Darwin in northern Australia.
The mountain’s ash cloud dropped from a height of 4,000-5,000 meters (13,100-16,400 feet) to around 1,000 meters, the head of the Bali airport authority, Elfi Amir, said in a statement. He added that passengers should not panic as contingency plans were in place.
A thick rain of ash and dust affected nine villages near the volcano, where a four-kilometer radius exclusion zone remained in place.
Authorities issued an orange alert for aviation – the second-highest after the red alert – while the eruption warning remained at level 3 on a scale of 4.
Mt Agung became active in September 2017 and its eruptions have forced operations at Denpasar airport to be halted many timesi.
The last major eruption of the volcano took place in 1963 and lasted for nearly a year, killing more than 1,000 people.
The Indonesian archipelago is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that records thousands of mostly small to moderate tremors every year.