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Indonesia volcano threat: Alert raised, tourists stranded, airport shut

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Denpasar (Indonesia): Indonesian authorities raised an alert on Monday for a menacing volcano on the tourist island of Bali to the highest level and ordered people within 10 kilometres to evacuate.

Flights were diverted from the island’s airport following the warning and the presence of volcanic ash from the erupting Agung.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Bali’s international airport had closed for 24 hours and authorities will consider reopening it on Tuesday after evaluating the situation.

“Continuing plumes of smoke are occasionally accompanied by explosive eruptions and the sound of weak blasts that can be heard up to 12 km (seven miles) from the peak,” the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said in a statement. “Rays of fire are increasingly visible from night to the following day. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent,” it said.

Thick ash started shooting thousands of meters into the air above Mount Agung on Saturday, driving east and southeast along the archipelago, causing dozens of flight cancellations.

Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation has raised its aviation alert notice to red, the highest level, indicating the potential for a larger eruption is imminent.

Bali is a popular tourist destination which welcomes more than a million visitors from nearby Australia every year, as well as hundreds of thousands of Chinese guests.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes around Mount Agung in September when the alert was first raised. At the time, an evacuation zone of 12 kilometres around Mount Agung was established, and travellers were warned to stay clear of the area, according to sources.

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