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60,000 stranded as Bali volcano hurls huge ash cloud

28 November 2017 09:04

Mount Agung is the highest point on the Indonesian island of Bali

Mount Agung is the highest point on the Indonesian island of Bali

Threat from a volcano in Bali has closed the island's main international airport, leaving tens of thousands of tourists stranded.

Ngurah Rai International Airport has been closed for 24 hours, with Indonesian authorities raising the alert for Mount Agung to the highest level possible.

Over the weekend clouds of white and dark grey ash have been spewing into the air, reaching heights of 3,000 metres.

The airspace has been contaminated with ash, forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled and thousands of holidaymakers left without a route home.

There have been 445 flights cancelled, according to airport spokesman Air Ahsanurrohim, affecting more than 59,000 travellers.

Officials say the situation will be reviewed every six hours, but the closure is expected to remain in effect until Tuesday, November 28.

100,000 told to evacuate

The volcano's alert level has been raised due to a shift to magmatic, from steam-based eruptions, according to geological agency head, Kasbani, who goes by one name.

Speaking on Indonesian TV, he said: "We don't expect a big eruption but we have to stay alert and anticipate."

But the threat is still in place and the national disaster agency.has released footage showing a mudflow of lahar - volcanic debris and water -moving down the volcano's slopes.

A spokesman for Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, says the danger zone has been expanded to cover 22 villages, with around 90,000 to 100,000 people advised to leave the area,

However, despite the escalated alert, less than half (40,000) have evacuated, with many worried about leaving their livestock.

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Mount Agung

As Indonesia's top tourist destination, Bali attracts around five million visitors each year, drawn by its lush green landscapes, clean white beaches and gentle Hindu culture.

The Indonesian archipelago is made up of around 17,000 islands and has more than 120 active volcanoes, sitting on the seismic strip known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire".

Mount Agung - known locally as Gunung Agung - is the highest point on Bali, at 3,031 metres. Its last major eruption killed around 1,100 people in 1963.