Flights over Bali are grounded after Mount Agung erupts

Just as authorities feared, Mount Agung did indeed erupt for the first time in over 50 years, crippling travel in and out of Bali. Locals took shelter to wait out the volcanic ash.

Smoke, steam, and soot surged from the volcano three times on Saturday alone, rising 7,600 meters (4.7 miles) into the air. CNN reports that 24,000 residents had to be moved to temporary shelters this weekend as ash fall hit several villages, but travel delays are stranding more people in the region.

As flights were canceled, Saturday and Sunday saw nearly 8,000 people stuck in Ngurah Rai International Airport. If the airport completely shuts down—a real possibility with Mount Agung continuing to erupt—roughly 50,000 passengers could be unable to leave Bali.

Most villagers who live near the 9,940-foot volcano are expected to stay in shelters until the volcano’s activity subsides. Indonesia’s Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation is warning that Mount Agung could continue sending its ash cloud higher and farther.

AirAsia, Cathay Pacific Airways, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Qantas, and Virgin Airlines have all suspended flights in and out of the island. Jetstar says it will resume flights for Bali starting on Monday, but the airline warns that cancellations could resume “at short notice.” The last time Mount Agung erupted back in 1963, nearly 1,000 people died.

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