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Travellers’ concern

A flight information board shows cancelled flights at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Tens of thousands of travelers have been left stranded as ash clouds forced the closure of the tourist island’s international airport. (AP Photo/Ketut Nataan)

Bali volcano in pictures: travellers stranded and more than 50,000 evacuated from Mount Agung area

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled after an ash cloud from Mount Agung settled in Bali’s skies this morning.

Fifty-nine thousand passengers on 445 canceled flights — including 196 international flights — have been affected, the airport said in a statement.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said that Denpasar Airport will closed for 24 hours and may reopen on Tuesday morning.

More than 50,000 people were evacuated in late September from areas surrounding the active volcano in Bali amid fears it could erupt at any moment.

The weekend’s volcanic eruptions sent ash 13,000 feet into the atmosphere and created plumes as high as 3.7 miles.

People have been warned to stay away from rivers following reports of ‘cold lava’.

Officials have been tracking the movements of Mount Agung since August, and raised the alert level on 14 September. Now, the area has been raised to a level four – the highest tier on the alert system.

Last time Mount Agung erupted – in 1963 – more than 1,000 people died.

There are still around 12,000 people waiting to be evacuated, and officials fear that there might not be enough shelters in place to house everyone.

As a result, local public halls have been warned they may have to step in and become makeshift shelters, too.

‘The biggest challenge is we can’t predict the number of evacuees.’ said Putu Widiada, head of the local disaster management agency in Klungkung district.

There are nearly 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, and many people choose to live nearby as the soil is better for farming.

The area is far more densely populated than the previous eruption, but also has far more precautions in place for this sort of natural disaster.

Although residents have been moved away from the volcano, many are still visiting their homes during the day and spending time in the area.

‘The latest analysis indicates that Mount Agung’s seismic energy is increasing and has the potential to erupt.’ the National Vulcanology Centre said in a statement.

‘However, no one can predict exactly when there will be an eruption.’ it concluded.

For the meantime, evacuations continue.

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