Bali governor extends state of emergency as Lombok airport shuts due to ash fall

Ash fall from the volcano has affected operations at the airport in Lombok, which will be closed until Friday. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Bali governor I Made Mangku Pastika has extended a state of emergency on the popular resort island to Dec 10 as it braces for what could be a major eruption of Mount Agung volcano in the days ahead.

Ash fall from the volcano has affected operations at the airport in neighbouring Lombok, which will be closed until Friday, said state-run air navigation agency AirNav Indonesia on Thursday (Nov 30).

This, even though flights in and out of Bali had resumed on Wednesday afternoon after being closed since Monday.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said on Thursday that volcanic activity continues at Mount Agung, erupting with thick ash up to a height of 2,000m and creating a hazardous radius of up to 10km from the peak of the crater.

More than 43,000 residents near the volcano in Karangasem regency in east Bali where Mount Agung lies, have been evacuated as of Thursday, three days after the alert status on the island was raised.

"They had to be evacuated because they live in regions that can potentially be exposed to ash clouds, incandescent lava fragments and stone blocks, and heavy ash fall," said Dr Sutopo.

Evacuation shelters have been set up across several areas including Badung, Bangli, Buleleng, Gianyar, Jembrana, Klungkung, Tabanan, even in Bali's capital Denpasar.

In a state of emergency, local governments can disburse funds to pay for aid that evacuees need or mobilise national resources.

Mount Agung, located about 70km east of Denpasar and tourism hotspots such as Kuta beach, has been on high alert since Sept 22, after an increase in seismic activity that pushed magma towards the surface of the volcano.

Experts and local authorities have said that a major eruption of the volcano, which last erupted in 1963, is imminent.

Mr Pastika and Dr Sutopo have urged residents in Karangasem regency to cooperate and evacuate out of the 10km exclusion zone.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.