Bali airport shut as volcano alert raised to highest level

Jakarta: Indonesia has raised volcano alert to the highest level on Monday amid fears of an imminent major eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung.
The main airport Ngurah Rai at the tourist island has been closed and a major evacuation is underway. Soldiers and police are distributing masks to people.
On Sunday, the volcano erupted three times sending a thick column of grey smoke up to 4,000 meters forcing officials to cancel 15 flights, shut the international airport on Lombok Island and move thousands of residents to safer places. Scores of passengers were stranded at Bali airport due to cancellation of flights.
On Sunday, Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised its aviation alert from orange to red fearing more eruptions and emission of ash.
Volcanic ash hanging in the air can damage plane engines and operating flights is risky.
As the ash cloud drifted eastward on Sunday, the international airport on Lombok Island was closed.
Officials and volcanologists say they have detected magma or molten rock close to the volcano’s surface.
More than 1,000 people had died when Mount Agung erupted in 1963.