Bali flights resume after Mt Agung eruptions cause cancellations

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Most flights between Australia and Bali resumed on Sunday after eruptions from Bali’s Mt Agung volcano grounded flights on Saturday, with ash descending on nearby villages. 

For the second time in a week, the volcano sent plumes of grey-black ash and steam at least 2000 metres into the sky prompting a number of airline to cancel services on Saturday.


Ash cloud from Mt Agung delays flights

Flights were disrupted when Bali’s Mt Agung volcano erupted for the second time in a week.

By Sunday morning, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar announced that they were resuming flights to and from Bali, having decided that conditions had improved and it was safe to fly.

But on Sunday afternoon, Virgin announced it had cancelled its remaining six flights to and from Bali, as a precautionary measure.

The cancelled Virgin flights to Bali were due to leave from Port Hedland, Sydney and Brisbane while travellers in Denpasar saw two flights to Brisbane and a Sydney flight cancelled.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by these flight changes, however, we will always put safety first,” a Virgin Australia spokeswoman said.

 A spokesman for Denpasar International Airport Arie Ahsan said that while the airport was operating normally on Sunday, but it  could close again.

“It depends on the strength [of the eruption] and the wind direction,” Mr Ahsan said. 

The current aviation code classification has been upgraded to red, meaning eruption is imminent or underway, with significant emission of ash into the atmosphere likely.

On Saturday Jetstar Airways cancelled nine flights in and out of Bali’s Denpasar Airport, from Sydney, Adelaide, Townsville, Perth, Singapore and Melbourne.

Three Jetstar flights on Sunday have also been cancelled: from Bali to Townsville, Bali to Perth and Singapore to Bali.

Flights operated by KLM, Qantas, AirAsia, and Virgin were also cancelled or re-routed on Saturday night following the eruption.

A Qantas flight from Sydney to Denpasar on Saturday night was diverted to Darwin, but a spokeswoman said the airline expected flights would operate to schedule on Sunday.

The volcanic eruption comes as schoolies revellers embark on the second week of end-of-school celebrations in Kuta in Bali.

A spokesman from Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said tourism in Bali remained safe, except in the area within a 6 to 7.5 kilometre radius of Mt Agung, which had continuously erupted from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning. 

Around 25,000 people have already been evacuated from the slopes of Mt Agung to hundreds of refuge shelters.

Locals reported facing heavy ash closer to the volcano. Wayan Dana, a volunteer from Rendang village, went to check on a village around 3 kilometres from the summit on Sunday morning, and found it empty and dense with ash. 

“It was raining ash everywhere…We used protection goggles, if not our eyes would hurt from the ashes,” he said.

In Muncan village, local Putu Budiari said there had been ash rain since Saturday night. 

“This morning, still until now all [is] still dark, you can’t see the sun,” said Ms Budiari.

Mt Agung is just over 72 kilometres from Kuta, and towers over eastern Bali at a height of just over 3000m. When it last erupted in 1963 it killed more than 1000 people and razed several villages.

 

– with Amilia Rosa, Craig Butt, Steve Lillebuen, Reuters

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