Mount Agung eruption disrupts Australian flights
Mount Agung's eruption on Friday night disrupted a number of flights to and from Australia, even though it is not affecting the operations of Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The head of the airport's Communication and Legal Section, Arie Ahsanurrohim, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday morning that at least 15 flights had been affected by the eruption, including 10 departures and four arrivals that were cancelled, while another had to be diverted.
The cancelled flights included two Qantas Airways planes going from Denpasar to Sydney and Melbourne, four Virgin Airlines planes to Brisbane and Sydney and four Jetstar planes to Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin and Sydney.
Four Jetstar flights that were scheduled to fly to Bali from Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin and Adelaide had also been cancelled. A Jetstar flight from Adelaide to Denpasar was diverted to Darwin following the eruption.
"The airport operations remain normal. It was those Australian airlines that cancelled their flights based on their safety assessments," Arie said.
The Transportation Ministry's airport authority for Bali, Elfi Amir, said in a statement that a thin volcanic ash was detected 4,000 to 5,000 meters above the airport area so the air traffic control officer guided pilots to avoid the area exposed to it.
Elfi also urged all passengers to not panic, saying the airport had conducted safety assessments to guarantee flight safety.
Mt. Agung erupted on Friday night, ejected lava and causing fires in areas 3 kilometers from the peak. No fatalities were reported. The local disaster mitigation agency had immediately distributed face masks in villages that were affected by the ash.
The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) maintained the volcano’s alert level at the third level of the system's four tiers. The PVMBG warned everyone, both locals and tourists alike, to steer clear of the danger zone where activities are prohibited in a 4-km radius from the crater.
A ban on hiking on Mt. Agung has been in effect ever since its volcanic activity increased in 2017. Locals living along the rivers at the foot of the volcano have also been warned to watch for possible lava flow that could come on rainy days.