Volcanic ash closes Bali airport, hundreds of flights cancelled

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Indonesian authorities closed the international airport on the resort island of Bali because of ash from a volcanic eruption, an official said Wednesday.

The Ngurah Rai airport would not reopen until Thursday as ash from Mount Rinjani on Lombok island was deemed a threat to flight safety, said Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Barata.

“Volcanic ash, even if it’s invisible, is very dangerous for aircraft,” Barata said.

Two small airports in Banyuwangi on Java island and Lombok were also closed, but the Lombok international airport was operating as normal as the area was not affected, he said.

At least 692 domestic and international flights had been cancelled since Tuesday, said Shively Sanssouci, a spokeswoman for the state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura.

“Many passengers have rescheduled their flights, so the Ngurah Rai airport is not too crowded,” she said.

Bali airport was closed several times in August because of the eruption of Mount Raung on Java.

Mount Rinjani has been spewing ash since on Sunday, but authorities said the volcano’s alert level remained one notch above normal. Bali airport was closed in August because of the eruption of Mount Raung on Java island.

Residents have been warned to stay away from a 3-kilometre exclusion zone.

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