Hundreds stranded as Indonesian volcano closes airports
An erupting Indonesian volcano forced the closure of five airports on Friday (July 10), including on Bali.
It caused about 350 flights to be cancelled and stranding thousands of holidaymakers.
The international airport on popular Lombok island was also among those closed late on Thursday as Mount Raung on the main island of Java spewed clouds of ash, the transport ministry said.
The closures came during peak holiday season in Bali.
“It’s pretty chaotic,” Ms Katie Nagar, an American expatriate living in Indonesia told AFP.
She described arriving at the domestic terminal in Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport to discover her flight to Jakarta on Garuda had been cancelled and rescheduled to Sunday (July 12).
“There’s basically just hundreds of people camped out on the grassy lawns in front of the airport. There’s lines of hundreds of people waiting to talk to customer service.”
Passengers wait in the international terminal at Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali on Friday. PHOTO: ANTARA FOTO/REUTERS
An AFP reporter in the international terminal estimated about 1,000 people were stranded there, with some trying to seek information from airport officials while others were sitting or sleeping on the floor.
Mr Trikora Harjo, general manager at Ngurah Rai, said that 330 flights — 160 domestic and 170 international — had so far been cancelled at the airport due to the ash cloud.
“Right now the authorities have declared that the airport will be closed until 9.30 pm (9.30pm, Singapore time), totally closed,” he said.
Garuda said it had cancelled a total of 112 flights on Friday (July 10).
Authorities raised the alert status of Mount Raung, a 3,300-metre (10,800-foot) volcano, late last month to the second highest level after it began to spew lava and ash high into the air.
Government vulcanologist Surono said eruptions were continuing at the volcano on Friday, and it was producing flames and a thundering sound. But authorities said no evacuations were necessary as those living in the area were already a safe distance away.