Tens of thousands of travelers are still stuck on the Indonesian island of Bali after authorities extended the closure of Bali’s international airport due to nearby volcanic activity.
Airport officials have announced that Ngurah Rai International Airport will remain closed for another 24 hours for safety reasons, as volcanic ash from Mount Agung — which has reached heights of 30,000 feet — continues to pose a threat to outgoing flights.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, shared the news early on Tuesday morning, though he stated that the nearby Lombok International Airport, on the neighboring island of Lombok, had reopened.
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Tourists, meanwhile, are still at a loss for what to do. “I don’t know, we can’t change it,” German tourist Gina Camp told the Associated Press from a bench at the airport. “It’s the nature and we have to wait until it’s over.”
Bali’s Mount Agung has been spewing smoke and ash since Saturday, the AP reports, and lava has been welling up in the crater. A potentially dangerous mudflow known as lahar — which is made up of volcanic debris mixed with water — has already begun to flow down the mountain, and Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency believes that it’s only a matter of time before lava spills “over the slopes” as well.
Indonesia’s volcanology center had since issued a red alert to all airlines, warning of excessive amounts of ash in the atmosphere for miles around, Sky News reports. And on Monday morning, officials closed the Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport) in Bali for 24 hours. A nearby airport on the Indonesian island of Lombok had already closed as of Sunday, The Telegraph adds.
Multiple airlines, too, had confirmed as of Sunday that flights out of Bali would be canceled. Garuda Indonesia, the country’s national airline, further responded to a concerned traveler via Twitter with news that Denpasar would be closed at least until 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Airport officials are said to be reviewing their decision every six hours, according to Buzzfeed News. As of Monday afternoon local time, at least 445 flights were canceled and 59 thousand travelers affected. An airport spokesman confirmed those numbers on Tuesday, AP reports.
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Hundreds of hopeful tourists, meanwhile, have reportedly been waiting at Ngurah Rai since Monday, according to photos taken at the airport.
One stranded passenger who spoke with Sky News said that she, like other tourists, were aware of the risks involved with traveling to Bali.
“Yeah I had knowledge and, like with everything, there’s a risk,” said Chelsea Van De Ven. “I took that risk and got stranded but, hopefully, we will get through.”
Another woman claimed on Twitter that she had checked out of her hotel and headed to the airport, only to return and re-check into the hotel, as there was no other way to learn when or if the airport had reopened. She says she will likely do the same thing again tomorrow.
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The National Disaster Mitigation Agency says that the volcano’s “danger zone” encompasses 22 villages and some 90,000-100,000 people. Authorities are trying to move them to the island’s evacuation centers, which were already housing about 25,000 other evacuees who had moved in following tremors in September.
Mount Agung’s last major eruption occurred in 1963, and claimed the lives of around 1,100 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.