Volcano that emanates ash over Bali closes the airport for the second day


KARANGASEM, Indonesia – A volcano that rises ash columns closed the airport on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali for the second day Tuesday, disrupting the journey of tens of thousands of people, as authorities renewed their warnings for the villagers to evacuate.

Mount Agung has spewed clouds of white and dark gray ash about 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above its cone since the weekend and the lava is sprouting in the crater, sometimes reflected as an orange glow red in the Ash pens Its explosions can be heard about 12 kilometers (7 1/2 miles) away.

The local airport authority said on Tuesday that it was necessary to close for another 24 hours for security reasons. The volcanic ash poses a deadly threat to aircraft, and the ashes of Agung move south-southwest towards the airport. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency of Indonesia raised the volcano alert to the highest level on Monday and extended an exclusion zone 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the crater in some places. of the previous 7 1/2 kilometers. He said a major eruption is possible, although a senior government volcanologist has also said that the volcano could continue for weeks at its current level of activity and not explode explosively.

The last major eruption of Agung in 1963 killed some 1,100 people.

Authorities have told 100,000 people to leave the houses near the volcano, although until Monday tens of thousands remained because they felt safe or did not want to abandon the livestock.

"The authorities will comb the area to persuade them," spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference on Monday. "If necessary, we will evacuate them by force." Nearly 25,000 people have already been living in evacuation centers since September when an increase in earthquakes raised concerns.

The lava that rises in the crater "will certainly extend to the slopes," said Sutopo.

Villager Putu Sulasmi said he fled with his husband and other family members to a sports hall that serves as an evacuation center.

"We came here on motorcycles, we had to evacuate because our house is only 3 miles from the mountain, we were so scared with the loud sound and the red light," he said.

The family had stayed at the same sports center in September and October, when the activity of the volcano was high but it did not erupt at that time. They had returned to their village a week ago.

"If it has to erupt, let it explode now instead of leaving us in uncertainty, I'll just accept it if we destroy our house," he said.

Volcanologist Erik Klemetti of Dennison University in Ohio said the Agung eruption in 1963 was large enough to cool the earth slightly, but it is not clear if this time it will have a major eruption or simmer during a prolonged period.

"A lot of what will happen depends on the underlying magma and what it is doing now," he said.

The closing of the airport has left stranded tens of thousands of travelers. More than 400 flights were canceled on Monday and nearly 60,000 affected pbadengers, an airport spokesman said.

Bali is the main tourist destination of Indonesia, with its Hindu culture, its surfing beaches and its lush green interior that attracts about 5 million visitors a year. [19659005] A Chinese tourist service, Shenzhen PT Lebali International, had about 20 groups with a total of 500 to 600 travelers from the Chinese cities of Wuhan, Changsha and Guangzhou in Bali, according to an executive, Liao Yuling, who was at the island.

"They are mostly retired or relatively high-end, so they do not say they are especially anxious to rush home," he said over the phone.

If the airport remains closed, Liao said they would go by ferry and bus to Surabaya in Java, where the company's charter flights could pick them up.

"We are not really affected, because the volcano is too far away," Liao said. "We can only say that we saw pictures of television."

The General Bureau of Land Transport of Indonesia said that 100 buses were deployed at the Bali International Airport and at ferry terminals to help travelers stranded by the eruption.

The head of the agency, Budi, said that the main ferry crossing points have been advised to prepare for a wave of pbadengers and vehicles. The stranded tourists could leave Bali by taking a ferry to Java and then traveling by land to the nearest airports.

Ash settled in towns and resorts around the volcano and interrupted his daily life outside the immediate danger zone.

"The ash that covered the trees and the grbad is very difficult for us because the cows can not eat," said Made Kerta Kartika of the village of Buana Giri. "I have to move the cows of this town"

Indonesia sits on the "Ring of Fire" of the Pacific and has more than 120 active volcanoes.


Wright reported from Jakarta. Associated Press journalists Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Joe McDonald in Beijing and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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