Bali volcano: Relief for tourists as airport set to reopen

Bali’s international airport will re-open on Wednesday afternoon after a nearly three-day shutdown, airport authorities said.

Officials had extended the closure of Bali’s international airport for another 24 hours due to concerns the thick volcanic ash could harm aircraft.

But they decided to reopen it as ash from a rumbling volcano that looms over the island paradise shifted away from the transport hub. “The airspace will be re-opened,” at 3:00 pm local time (0700 GMT), Bali Ngurah Rai airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim told AFP.

But “we are going to constantly monitor the situation on the ground,” he added.

Mount Agung has spewed ash 74.7 miles high, forcing the closure of the island’s international airport for almost three full days.

Authorities have told 100,000 people to leave an area extending 6 miles from Mount Agung as it belches grey and white ash plumes, the low clouds hanging over the volcano at times hued red from the lava welling in the crater. The volcano’s last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people, but it’s unclear how bad the current eruption might get or how long it could last.

Airport spokesman Ari Ahsanurrohim said more than 440 flights were cancelled on Tuesday, affecting nearly 60,000 passengers, about the same as Monday. Without aircraft, getting in or out of Bali requires travelling hours by land and taking a boat to another island, enduring choppy seas in Bali’s rainy season.

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