SHARE

Bali airport has reopened, authorities say, two days after a volcanic eruption spread ash across the island and forced it to close.

Key points:

  • Qantas and Jetstar flights not resuming until Thursday
  • More than 400 flights disrupted on Wednesday
  • Experts warn larger eruption of Mt Agung possible

"Bali's international airport started operating normally," air traffic control provider AirNav said in a statement, adding that operations resumed at 2:28pm (local time).

Despite the reopening, Qantas and Jetstar flights were not due to resume right away.

Qantas and Jetstar are due to make 16 flights to Australia on Thursday to ferry home 3,800 stranded customers, Qantas said.

Singapore Airlines said it would also resume flights between Singapore and Bali.

The airport said as many as 430 domestic and international flights had been disrupted on Wednesday.

The reopening followed a downgrade in the authorities' aviation warning to "orange", one level below the most serious.

The decision to resume operations followed an emergency meeting at the airport, weighing up weather conditions, tests and data from AirNav and other groups, AirNav added.

Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport was closed on Monday after the eruption of Mt Agung, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranding thousands of passengers.

Indonesia's Transport Ministry had earlier said the airport would be shut until at least 7:00am (local time) on Thursday.

External Link: Adam Harvey tweet: Air Asia's looking good. A sentence I never thought I'd say.

Airport spokesman Ari Ahsanurrohim said this morning that volcanic ash had not been detected at the airport yet, but observations from the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre showed the ash was being blown southward and south-westward toward the airport.

The eruption has spread drifting ash 7,600 metres into the atmosphere and authorities have told about 150,000 people to leave an area extending 10 kilometres from Mt Agung.

Experts said a larger, explosive eruption is possible or Mt Agung could stay at its current level of activity for weeks.

"If it got much worse, it would be really hard to think of," said Richard Arculus, a volcano expert at Australian National University.

"You've got a huge population centre, nearly a million people in Denpasar and surroundings, and it's very difficult to envision moving those people further away.

"There are many examples in history where you have this kind of seismic build-up — steam ejections of a little bit of ash, growing eruptions of ash to a full-scale stratosphere-reaching column of ash, which can presage a major volcanic event."

President urges residents to evacuate

A NASA satellite detected a thermal anomaly at the crater, senior Indonesian volcanologist Gede Swantika said.

That means a pathway from the storage chamber in the volcano's crust has opened, giving magma easier access to the surface.

A large plume of white and grey ash and smoke hovered above Mt Agung on Wednesday, after night-time rain partially obscured a fiery glow at its peak over the last few days.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo implored residents living in a zone around Agung deemed at risk to seek refuge in emergency centres.

Mt Agung towers over eastern Bali to a height of just over 3,000 metres.

Its last major eruption in 1963 killed more than 1,000 people and razed several villages.

Layers of ash coated cars, roofs and roads in an area south-east of the crater.

Authorities want residents in an area about 8-10 kilometres around the volcano to head for emergency centres, warning a larger eruption could be "imminent".

But some are reluctant to leave homes and livestock unattended.

Mr Widodo asked emergency services, military and officials to assist evacuees and help stranded tourists get home.

"There must not be any victims hit by the eruption," he said.

Reuters/AP

Original Article

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here