'Red warning' to airlines over Bali volcano

'Red warning' to airlines over Bali volcano

'Red warning' to airlines over Bali volcano

Authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from 224 points on the Indonesian island of Bali this weekend after the eruption of Mount Agung, which spewed huge clouds of potentially life-threatening ash into the atmosphere, CNN reported.

GettyBalinese Hindus take part in a ceremony, where they pray near Mount Agung in hope of preventing a volcanic eruption, in Muntig village of the Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26.

Up to 7,000 air passengers are stranded on the island at the main Bali airport of Ngurah Rai, while Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised its aviation alert status from orange to its highest possible red status, signifying extreme hazards to aircraft. Suantika said Agung could spew ash for at least a month but did not expect a major eruption.

Mount Agung, which has been experiencing increased activity since Tuesday, erupted for the second time on Saturday. Virgin Airlines cancelled several flights between the island and Australia. However it warned that the movement of ash cloud is highly unpredictable and flights could still be cancelled at short notice.

The alert status remains at level 3, the second-highest level.

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Staff at Indonesia's volcano monitoring centre said it was not just pulverised rock being blown out of Mt Agung, but magma has now reached the volcano's surface.

About 25,000 people are thought to be in shelters while more than 140,000 people fled earlier this year.

The last time the volcano had a major eruption, in 1963, more than 1,000 people perished.

Away from the airport, closer to the volcano, there are no new evacuations and so far no plans to extend an evacuation zone that reaches up to 7.5 kilometres from the crater. "Seismic activity is characterized by low frequency earthquakes".

It is home to more than 130 active volcanoes.

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