Bali Volcano Eruption Strands 59,000 Travelers

Villagers carry their belongings during an evacuation following the eruption of Mount Agung, seen in the background, in Karangasem, Indonesia. // Photo by AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati via Newscred

The Mount Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia, has erupted, forcing the closing of the international airport and thousands of people to evacuate.

According to a statement on the Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) website, flight operations at the airport are currently suspended to due ash from the eruption.

The Bali Tourism Board reports that the airport will be closed until at least 7 a.m. Tuesday, November 28.

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“While the sun is shining and there is little sign of volcanic ash in the southern regions of Bali, evidence of volcanic ash at higher altitudes on aviation approach and departure paths has prompted the decision to close the airport,” the Tourism Board said in a written release. “Authorities say the quality of the atmosphere over Bali as it affects aviation safety is under continuous review with a decision to be made on whether the current airport closure will continue beyond 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning.”

According to the Tourism Board, the “danger zone” relating to the eruption extends approximately 10 kilometers from the volcano’s crater. All tourist and trekking activities near the volcano have been suspended until further notice. Areas in south Bali, some 60 – 70 kilometers from the volcano, are under no direct threat, the Tourism Board said.

The Tourism Board is advising visitors to stay in their hotels, where hotel management and government agencies will keep them informed. Guests who were scheduled to check out Monday or Tuesday should contact the hotel’s reception. Hotels are providing the best commercial rate for those needing to extend their stay, the Tourism Board said, and can also assist in contacting airlines.  

Guests with an urgent need for onward travel may be able to head by bus and ferry to the nearest international airport in Surabaya, which is approximately 12 hours away, the Tourism Board said.

The Mercury News reports that 100,000 people have been ordered to evacuate due to the eruption, and that 59,000 travelers had been stranded due to the airport closure. An even larger eruption could still be possible, according to Bali’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Flight Waivers

A number of airlines have issued change fee and cancellation waivers in response to the eruption.

Delta is allowing travelers scheduled to fly through November 30 to rebook through December 7, with the new ticket to be reissued on or before that date.

Guests scheduled to fly on Virgin Australia through December 4 can either opt to receive a full travel credit; change their booking to the same destination on a different date within 30 days of the original booking date with no difference in fare; change their booking to Nadi (Fiji) or Port Vila (Vanuatu) no later than 30 days from the original booking date without change fees; or change their booking to a different destination within 30 days of the original booking date, subject to fare differences.

Singapore Airlines will help guests rebook or request a refund if they were scheduled to travel through December 4. Rebooked travel must begin on or before January 31, 2018.

Customers scheduled to fly on KLM through November 30 can reschedule through December 7.

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