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Mount Agung eruption: Indonesia issues highest aviation warning
27 November 2017, 12:19 | Bernice Figueroa
ANDRI TAMBUNAN GETTY
Mount Agung spews volcanic ash into the sky at night
Up to 7,000 air passengers are stranded on the island at the main Bali airport of Ngurah Rai, while Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised its aviation alert status from orange to its highest possible red status, signifying extreme hazards to aircraft.
"As a result we have cancelled flights to and from Bali this evening".
"Following an eruption of the Mount Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia, it is not now safe to operate flights around Denpasar Airport", the airline said in a statement.
The ash, which began spewing into the sky after Mount Agung in eastern Bali erupted three times Saturday, has reached heights of 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles), according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of information and data for Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency.
Satellite imagery Sunday showed the volcanic ash drifting east and southeastward towards Lombok Island. Virgin, KLM and Air Asia Malaysia also cancelled several flights Saturday. Government officials are insistent that the island remains safe for now outside of the area immediately surrounding Mount Agung.
Evacuation zones, reaching up to 7.5 kilometers from the crater, have been put into place, and about 24,000 residents have been forced to temporary shelters. Suantika said Agung could spew ash for at least a month but did not expect a major eruption.
JOHANNES CHRISTO REUTERS
There is an exclusion zone around the volcano
Several thousand people were affected by Saturday's flight cancellations.
The alert status remains at level 3, the second-highest level.
The mountain's last major eruption occurred in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.
Some 25,000 people have been prevented from returning to their homes since the volcano awoke in September.
On Oct 29, the centre lowered the volcano's alert level by one notch after it was raised to 4 on Sept 22 in response to the most intense volcanic activity recorded in 53 years.
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