JAKARTA, Indonesia: Thousands of travelers are stranded in Bali after ash from the Mount Agung volcano on the tourist island forced the international airport to close early Monday.
Flight information boards showed rows of cancelations as tourists arrived at the busy Bali airport expecting to catch flights home.
Hundreds of flights are canceled and authorities say seven flights were diverted to airports in Jakarta, Surabaya and Singapore when the closure was announced at about 6 a.m.
Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of meters into the atmosphere, which forced the small international airport on the neighboring island of Lombok to close Sunday as the plumes drifted east. It has since reopened.
Airport authorities say the decision to close Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai airport was made after tests showed ash had reached its airspace.
Indonesian authorities raised the alert for a menacing volcano on the tourist island of Bali to the highest level Monday and ordered people within 10 kilometers (6 miles) to evacuate.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Bali’s international airport had closed for 24 hours and authorities would consider reopening it Tuesday after evaluating the situation.
Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of meters into the atmosphere, which forced the small international airport on the neighboring island of Lombok to close Sunday as the plumes drifted east.
Geological agency head, Kasbani, who goes by one name, said the alert level was raised at 6 a.m. on Monday because the volcano has shifted from steam-based eruptions to magmatic eruptions. However he says he’s still not expecting a major eruption.
“We don’t expect a big eruption but we have to stay alert and anticipate,” he says.
Previously the exclusion zone around the volcano ranged between 6 and 7.5 kilometers.
The volcano’s last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.