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Bali Volcano Threatens, but Island Still Safe, Officials Say

26 November 2017

Worldwide flights in and out of Bali have been grounded after Mount Agung erupted for the second time in a week sending travel plans into chaos.

Mount Agung was spewing smoke up to 1500 meters above its summit, two times higher than on Tuesday, when the smoke has forced the exodus of the people living near the mountain.

Phreatic eruptions are a common precursor of volcanic activity.

It was considered minor, as was an earlier eruption on Tuesday.

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Saturday's eruption started at 5.30pm local time and went on for some time, with ash going up 1.5km and being blown southwest, carried by the current wind direction trend, BNPB spokesman Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

'Tactical guidance for departure and arrival aircraft has been applied.

Bali is an important tourist centre and the worldwide airport of Denpasar, the capital of the island, is operating normally for the moment, even if some airlines made a decision to cancel their flights.

Qantas and Virgin soon followed suit and cancelled flights to and from Australia while Dutch airline KLM also halted flights.

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Bali, famous for its surf, beaches and temples, attracted almost 5 million visitors past year, but business has slumped in areas around the volcano since September when Agung's volcanic tremors began to increase.

Mt Agung's last major eruption was in 1963 and killed more than 1100 people.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and has 127 active volcanoes - more than any other country. But in recent weeks, volcanic activity on Agung had been slowing, with authorities lowering the alert status to the third highest classification and the number of evacuees living in shelters decreasing to roughly 30,000 people.

Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island - which is now at its highest alert level - has been active since 2013.

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Bali Volcano Threatens, but Island Still Safe, Officials Say