Tuesday 14 July, 2020

The Latest: China arranges 100 buses to get Chinese off Bali

Clouds of ashes raise from the Mount Agung volcano erupting in Karangasem, Indonesia. Indonesia authorities raised the alert for the rumbling volcano to highest level on Monday and closed the international airport on tourist island of Bali stranding thousands of travelers. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

Clouds of ashes raise from the Mount Agung volcano erupting in Karangasem, Indonesia. Indonesia authorities raised the alert for the rumbling volcano to highest level on Monday and closed the international airport on tourist island of Bali stranding thousands of travelers. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

The Latest on a rumbling volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

China says there were 17,000 Chinese tourists on Bali before the latest eruption of Mount Agung.

The Chinese consulate on the Indonesian island said on its website that airlines and travel services were arranging 100 buses to take Chinese tourists to catch ferries to neighbouring Java.

The Chinese foreign ministry issued a statement urging travellers to be "vigilant about safety" when deciding whether to visit Bali.

China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's biggest carriers, cancelled flights Sunday and said passengers due to fly any time between then and Dec. 10 could obtain refunds.

A woman who answered the phone at the state-owned China International Travel Service, one of the country's biggest travel agencies, said it was prohibited from talking to foreign reporters.

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4:15 p.m.

The closure of Bali's airport due to volcanic ash is having a disruptive effect on flights around Indonesia and the region.

Bali is a hub airport in Indonesia with many flights transiting there for domestic as well as international destinations. Planes that would have flown other routes Monday are now stuck on the tarmac in Bali.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono said he was waiting two hours at Jakarta's terminal 3 for his delayed flight to a domestic destination.

He said other flight delays have been announced at the terminal, which serves national carrier Garuda, and the departure area is filling up with many waiting passengers.

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1:10 p.m.

A spokesman for Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency says lava is welling up in the crater of the Mount Agung volcano on Bali "which will certainly spill over to the slopes."

Volcanologists say the lava's presence is sometimes reflected in the ash plume which takes on a reddish-orange glow even in daytime.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said bigger eruptions than those currently happening are possible based on the information the disaster agency is receiving from the volcano monitoring centre.

He said that "since yesterday there were explosive eruptions whose sound was heard up to 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) away."

Nugroho said officials are responding based on a worst-case scenario occurring because Agung has a history of violent eruptions. Its last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.

He said, "We cannot be sure whether this time eruptions will be the same with 1963."

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11:50 a.m.

Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency says as many as 100,000 villagers need to leave the expanded danger zone around the Mount Agung volcano on Bali, but that less than half that number have left.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference in Jakarta that the extension of the danger zone to 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the crater in places affects 22 villages and about 90,000 to 100,000 people.

The volcano's alert was raised to the highest level earlier Monday and ash clouds have forced the closure of Bali's international airport.

Nugroho said about 40,000 people have evacuated but others have not left because they feel safe or don't want to abandon their livestock.

He said that "authorities will comb the area to persuade them. If needed, we will forcibly evacuate them."

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10:50 a.m.

Indonesia's Directorate General of Land Transportation says 100 buses are being deployed to Bali's international airport and to ferry terminals to help travellers stranded by the eruption of Mount Agung.

Bali's international airport was closed early Monday after ash from the volcano reached its airspace. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and tens of thousands of travellers affected.

The agency's chief, Budi, said major ferry crossing points have been advised to prepare for a surge in passengers and vehicles. Stranded tourists could leave Bali by taking a ferry to neighbouring Java and then travel by land to the nearest airports.

Authorities say the airport closure is in effect until Tuesday morning and is being reviewed every six hours.

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9:50 a.m.

Video released by Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency shows water and volcanic debris flowing down the slopes of the ash-spewing Mount Agung on Bali as rain falls on the island.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said people should stay away from rivers and not enter the 10 kilometres (6 miles) exclusion zone around the volcano.

He says lahars could increase as it's rainy season in Bali. The mudflows can move rapidly and are a frequent killer during volcanic eruptions.

Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of meters into the atmosphere since the weekend, forcing the closure of Bali's airport and stranding tens of thousands of travellers.

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8:30 a.m.

Tens of thousands of travellers are stranded in Bali after ash from the Mount Agung volcano on the tourist island forced the international airport to close early Monday.

Flight information boards showed rows of cancellations as tourists arrived at the busy Bali airport expecting to catch flights home.

Airport spokesman Air Ahsanurrohim said 445 flights were cancelled, stranding about 59,000 travellers.

Authorities say seven flights were diverted to airports in Jakarta, Surabaya and Singapore when the closure was announced early Monday.

Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of meters into the atmosphere, which forced the small international airport on the neighbouring island of Lombok to close Sunday as the plumes drifted east. It has since reopened.

Airport authorities say the decision to close Bali's I Gusti Ngurah Rai airport was made after tests showed ash had reached its airspace.

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6 a.m.

Indonesian authorities raised the alert for a menacing volcano on the tourist island of Bali to the highest level Monday and ordered people within 10 kilometres (6 miles) to evacuate.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Bali's international airport had closed for 24 hours and authorities would consider reopening it Tuesday after evaluating the situation.

Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of meters into the atmosphere, which forced the small international airport on the neighbouring island of Lombok to close Sunday as the plumes drifted east.

Geological agency head, Kasbani, who goes by one name, said the alert level was raised at 6 a.m. on Monday because the volcano has shifted from steam-based eruptions to magmatic eruptions. However, he says he's still not expecting a major eruption.

"We don't expect a big eruption but we have to stay alert and anticipate," he says.

Previously the exclusion zone around the volcano ranged between 6 and 7.5 kilometres.

The volcano's last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.

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