Volcanic eruption cancels flights in Indonesia

Five Indonesian airports close due to eruption of Raung volcano

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

More than 250 flights were cancelled on Friday in five Indonesian airports, including on the popular holiday islands of Bali and Lombok, due to volcanic ash clouds, according to officials.

Mount Raung in East Java province, about 150 kilometres away from the island of Bali, has been erupting and spewing debris into the air for nearly one week.

The Transport Ministry put up a notice late on Thursday for the cancellation of flights due to pass near the mountain, according to a spokesman for the ministry.

The decision followed advice from Indonesia's climatology, meteorology and geophysics agency to close the airports as safety a measure, according to Ida Bagus Juliatnyana, a spokesman for the national airport authority.

"We want to take precautions so we're not allowing any flights in or out of Bali," he told CNN.

Lambok, Banyuwangi and Jember were the other affected airports, the country's national airline, Garuda Indonesia, tweeted on Friday.  

The cancellation came in Indonesia’s holiday season, during which millions of tourists flock to the country’s palm-fringed beaches and historic temples.

Cancellations have also affected Muslims who were organising many trips to the Muslim-majority country ahead of the Eid holiday next weekend.

According to an AFP report, nearly 1,000 people were left stranded in airports around the affected area.

"Everyone is just waiting around. Many were not informed of the cancellations beforehand," a stranded passenger told AFP in a statement.

"There's basically just hundreds of people camped out on the grassy lawns in front of the airport. There's lines of hundreds of people waiting to talk to customer service," said another passenger, an American expatriate living in Indonesia.

Indonesia is on the Pacific Ring of Fire for this reason it is in the middle of the seismic activity with its more than 130 active volcanoes.

Last month, the eruption of the Sinabung volcano in Sumatra forced more than 1,000 people to move from their homes to refugee camps.

TRTWorld and agencies