Mount Agung eruption: Indonesia issues highest aviation warning

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre (PVMBG) has raised its flight alert level from orange to red on Sunday (Nov 26), as Mount Agung continued to a spew...

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre (PVMBG) has raised its flight alert level from orange to red on Sunday (Nov 26), as Mount Agung continued to a spew significant amount of ash.

The highest aviation warning during a volcanic eruption comes after Mount Agung in Bali started erupting for the second time in a week on Saturday evening.

“At 6.20am (local time), the eruption reached between 3,000 and 4,000m from the summit with the ash moving in a southeast direction at a speed of 18km an hour,” said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a statement on Sunday morning.

However, Mount Agung’s current eruption is still not considered dangerous.

The alert status remains at level 3 out of 4, with authorities warning residents not to conduct any activities within a 6 to 7.5km radius from the volcano.

Routes to Bali from several cities in Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia were cancelled and re-routed on Saturday night and early Sunday morning as a result of the eruption.

Carriers said they were assessing the situation on Sunday morning with several airlines including Qantas , Jetstar and Virgin resuming flights, which were disrupted after the volcano sent a grey-black plume of ash and steam at least 1,500m into the sky.

Flights affected also included those operated by KLM and AirAsia. However, officials said the airport would remain open for now as the ash could be avoided.

“The volcanic ash has only been detected in a certain area,” the airport and other officials said in a joint statement.

All domestic flights and the airport itself were operating as “normal” and tests for ash had been negative, it said.

Yunus Suprayogi, general manager of Bali airport operator Angkasa Pura I, said food and entertainment would be provided as well as extra bus services if conditions changed and passenger numbers increased.

The airport would also “make it easier” for passengers to seek refunds and make other arrangements, he said, while noting that airlines had their own rules.”

After resuming flights on Sunday morning, Virgin Australia again canceled flights on Sunday afternoon following a change in the aviation colour code from orange to red.

“Due to the significant volcanic ash and current weather conditions, we have made the decision to cancel the rest of today’s flights to and from Bali as a precautionary measure,” Virgin said in a statement on its website.

AirAsia also canceled its remaining flights to Bali and Lombok.

Qantas and Jetstar flights were continuing as of Sunday afternoon but Jetstar warned on its website that flights could be subject to change at short notice for safety reasons.

Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda said it was cancelling all flights to and from Lombok.

The latest eruption produced a bigger ash cloud than the initial eruption on Tuesday, Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said.


Lombok International Airport in neighbouring West Nusa Tenggara province has also been closed as a result of the volcanic eruption.

In a statement issued by the transportation ministry on Sunday, the airport was closed at 4.15pm local time as a significant amount of volcanic cloud had moved to Lombok.

Lombok’s airport authority said a total of 26 flights had been cancelled after the closure of the airport.

“The airport will be closed until Monday morning at 6am local time,” state news agency Antara reported I Gusti Ngurah Ardita, general manager of Angkasa Pura, Lombok International Aiport, as saying during a press conference.

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