Bali airport reopens after closure for 12 hours due to volcanic eruption; more than 300 flights resumed

Denpasar: Bali reopened its international airport on Friday after a volcanic eruption temporarily grounded flights, stranding thousands of tourists on the Indonesian holiday island.

Ngurah Rai airport began operating around 2.30 pm, about 12 hours after it closed in response to Mount Agung belching smoke and ash.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Ash is dangerous for planes because it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.

A change in wind direction pushed the ash away from Bali's international gateway, allowing flights to resume, an airport official said. "The airport will operate for 24 hours straight to get flights back on schedule," he added.

The early morning closure sparked the cancellation of more than 300 flights to and from the tropical paradise with nearly 27,000 passengers affected, according to the airport.

About 400 local residents living near the rumbling volcano, about 75 kilometres from Bali's tourist hub of Kuta, moved to evacuation centres.

A striking orange-red glow could be seen at the top of Agung's crater after it shot plumes of thick smoke some 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) into the sky on Thursday evening.

Authorities closed the airport after a pilot flying overhead detected traces of volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet.

An eruption at Agung in November also stranded thousands and pounded Bali's lucrative tourism industry, the backbone of its economy. Tens of thousands of locals fled to evacuation centres after last year's eruption.

Australian visitor Rod Bird came early to the airport only to be told his flight back to Perth had been cancelled for the second time.

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Updated Date: Jun 29, 2018 15:17:19 IST

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