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Bali Airport Reopens as Cloud of Volcanic Ash Lifts

  • VOA News

FILE - a flight information board shows cancelled flights due to smoke from Mount Agung at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia.

Two days after the skies above the Indonesian resort island of Bali were darkened by a large cloud of volcanic ash, the island's international airport reopened Wednesday.

The airport has been closed since Monday, when activity at nearby Mount Agung sent a large cloud of ash more than 7,600 meters into the air. More than 400 flights in and out of Bali were canceled during that time, and tens of thousands of foreign tourists were left stranded at the facility.

The volcanic ash finally shifted direction earlier Wednesday, prompting airport officials to resume normal operations.

Authorities on Bali have issued an evacuation order for 100,000 people living within a 10 kilometer radius of Mount Agung, citing fears of a major eruption that could happen at any moment. The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing over 1,000 people.

President Joko Widodo has ordered the military and all emergency services to assist with evacuees and stranded tourists.

Volcanologists first detected seismic activity at Mount Agung since August. The activity peaked in mid-September, prompting Indonesia's national disaster agency to raise its highest alert level for the volcano and evacuating more than 120,000 residents.

The vast archipelago of Indonesia is located along the Pacific's so-called "Ring of Fire," a seismically active line of faults where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.

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