Bali Airport Reopens After Hit By Volcano Ash
Indonesia's Bali Airport had opened after nearly three-days shutdown sparked by a rumbling volcano on the Indonesian holiday island.
The alert level on Mount Agung remains at maximum, but a change in wind direction blew towering columns of ash and smoke away from the airport, prompting authorities to re-open the island's main international gateway yesterday afternoon.
Ash is dangerous for planes as it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.
"Since the airport reopened yesterday, some flights have resumed operation and things are gradually getting back to normal," said airport spokesman Israwadi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Last evening, domestic carrier Garuda said it would start flights to several cities across the vast archipelago nation, while AirAsia flew to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
However, the airport on nearby Lombok island was closed again Thursday after ash and smoke drifted in its direction.
The shifting wind direction was being caused by cyclone Cempaka which is battering Indonesia's main Java island - west of Bali.
Experts said Agung's recent activity matches the build-up to the earlier disaster, which ejected enough debris - about a billion tonnes - to lower global average temperatures by around 0.3 degrees Celsius for roughly a year.
While the volcano appeared to be belching less ash and smoke today, experts urged caution and have warned a major eruption - could happen at any moment. It has already experienced a series of mini eruptions.
"The volcano is still on the highest alert level."
Indonesia, the world's most active volcanic region, lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire: where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.