Students from Singapore stranded in Lombok due to volcanic ash cloud

Passengers waiting after their flights were cancelled at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 5, 2015.
Passengers waiting after their flights were cancelled at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 5, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - A group of students from Singapore are stranded in Lombok as the airport on the Indonesian island remains closed due to volcanic eruptions.

Flights from Lombok International Airport and Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport were halted on Tuesday (Nov 3) due to the eruption of the Barujari crater of Mount Rinjani in Lombok.

Bali's airport re-opened on Thursday (Nov 5), after nearly 700 flights, including 320 international ones, were cancelled between last Tuesday and Thursday.

The airport in Lombok will be closed until Monday (Nov 9), a spokesman from the Lombok International Airport told The Straits Times in an email.

"Mount Rinjani is sill spouting volcanic dust unpredictably; the clouds continue to hang directly above the island," The Jakarta Post quoted a spokesman from Garuda Indonesia as saying.

SilkAir flights to and from Lombok on Sunday - MI128 and MI127 - are to be cancelled, the regional airline said.

SilkAir said that there are 89 passengers who are booked on the cancelled flights back to Singapore.

This means that a student expedition from Singapore will be held up for a third night on Lombok.

 

The 26-member group includes 19 students, and three teachers from the School of Science and Technology, Singapore, who are on a five-day marine conservation trip under the school’s Global Citizenship Programme.

The school has been monitoring the situation closely, said a spokesman from the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Plans have been made for the team to return as soon as the airport is re-opened. The school is also in touch with the students’ parents and is providing them with regular updates, said MOE.

One of those in the group is Mr Wong Yuen Lik, who runs outdoor adventure agency X-Trekkers.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said, "All are safe and sound here".

The group arrived on Lombok on Nov 2 and were due to leave on Nov 6.

He said that SilkAir is covering part of the group's expenses on accommodation and meals for the extra nights.

It is unclear when the flights will resume.

SilkAir said it will continue to monitor the situation closely and resume flights as soon as possible. It has also initiated contact with the Singapore Embassy in Indonesia.