Erupting Bali volcano blankets popular tourist island with ash, disrupts flights

"We will continue to see eruptions like this one at scales similar, but we cannot predict when mount Agung is really going to erupt", said to AFP Mr. Suantika.

It is the second major emission from the Indonesian island volcano this week, and flights have been disrupted.

Villagers carry their belongings during an evacuation following the eruption of Mount Agung, seen in the background, in Karangasem, Indonesia, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. It is still gushing and the dark grey clouds are moving toward the neighbouring island of Lombok, a direction that is away from Bali's airport, where almost all scheduled domestic and global flights were continuing Sunday.

Several airlines have cancelled flights around Bali, with nearly 5,000 passengers having to find an alternate route, ABC News reported.

Bali is a major tourist destination, although the main resorts of Kuta and Seminyak are about 70km from the volcano.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency tweeted that an ash column from Mount Agung coated a nearby village in a thin layer of ash on Saturday.

It is also affecting some flight paths to Denpasar and creating complications for air traffic controllers who are steering planes away from the ash.

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Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an area of tectonic plates that frequently collide, causing seismic and volcanic activity.

It told people within a 7.5km exclusion zone to "immediately evacuate" in an "orderly and calm manner".

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.

It is home to more than 130 active volcanoes.

There are fears the volcano could erupt for the first time since 1963, when almost 1,600 people died.

  • Megan Austin