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Thousands of tourists stranded as Bali volcano eruption closes airport

30 June 2018

Ash from a volcanic eruption forced the closure of the worldwide airport on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Friday, as Mount Agung volcano became active again after a lull since late a year ago.

The budget airline said in a statement that the Ngurah Rai International Airport was closed today, from 3am to 7pm.

Meanwhile, a check yesterday evening with Changi Airport's website found that AirAsia Flight QZ508, which was scheduled to land in Singapore at 8.20pm from Denpasar airport, had been cancelled. Volcanic ash is a potentially deadly threat to aircraft that can cause engines to "flame out".

At least one flight out of Bali to Perth from Air Asia has been cancelled.

Indonesia's second-busiest airport will stay shut until at least 7pm local time on Friday, with 85 global flights and 191 domestic flights cancelled, affecting almost 16,000 people, airport authorities said.

The volcano, about 70km northeast of Bali's tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in 1963, killing about 1100 people.

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Eruptions lasted for nearly a year, with the volcano falling silent again until September 2017 when several hundred earthquakes struck locally.

Almost 450 flights were cancelled on Friday, affecting some 75,000 people, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2500m column of ash and smoke for a second day.

Volcanic ash is hard and abrasive, and can damage propellers and turbo compressor blades, as well as scratching cockpit windows.

Thousands were stranded at the airport or nearby hotels Friday, but it was not immediately clear how many tourists were unable to leave the island.

Jetstar advised customers booked to fly to Bali on Friday night to travel to the airport as usual and check their flight status online. However, the alert level for the volcano has not been raised and authorities are still monitoring Mount Agung, which is located in northeastern Bali.

They said some 10 domestic flights were also cancelled, affecting more than 1,700 passengers.

Thousands of tourists stranded as Bali volcano eruption closes airport