Bali volcano eruption halts some flights

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Just after a few hours, the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2500 metre column of ash and smoke, the Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its worldwide airport.

Mt. Agung, about 70 kilometres northeast of Bali's tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in the year 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Airlines are now scrambling to clear the backlog of thousands of passengers disrupted by the eruption of Mount Agung on Bali.

The eruption, which began on Thursday, fired a towering column of ash 2,500 metres (8,200ft) into the sky, and reddish flames lit up the volcano's crater overnight.

Mount Agung is spewing ash 2000 metres into the air. Volcanic ash can damage aircraft engines, clog fuel and cooling systems, and affect visibility.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the airport closure began early Friday.

The cancelled flights included those between Kuala Lumpur and Bali, between Bangkok and Bali, between Singapore and Bali, between Perth and Bali, between Jakarta and Bali, between Bandung and Bali, between Yogyakarta and Bali, and between Solo and Bali, it said.

The regional Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin, Australia, said winds would carry the ash southwest toward Java, Indonesia's most densely populated island.

The only three flights this morning to Bali from Melbourne were cancelled with passengers with tickets to fly in the afternoon to the tourist island still holding their breath.

Mount Agung rumbled back to life previous year and has been erupting periodically since.

Activity at the volcano was high last year and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, but it had been quieter this year. "We hoped that we could leave this morning, but the airport is closed", she said.

Jetstar and Virgin Australia also canceled flights, according to media.

Indonesia is home to around 130 volcanoes due to its position in the highly active ring of fire - a belt of tectonic plate boundaries in the Pacific Ocean which is vulnerable to frequent seismic activity.

Bali's governor said officials were working on getting visitors on their way.

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