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Volcano ash grounds flights in Bali

Indonesia has been forced to close two airports until Thursday because of ash from an erupting volcano on a nearby island. More than 100 flights have been grounded.

Meteorological authorities say both Bali's international airport and Selaparang airport in West Nusa Tenggara will remained closed until at least Thursday.

"The wind has blown the volcanic ash towards Bali in such a way that it covers the sky around the airport, making conditions unsuitable for flying," Bali airport official Yulfiadi told the AFP news agency.

A total of 106 flights scheduled to take off Wednesday were canceled, including 59 international flights. Ash from a different volcano had

stranded thousands of passengers on Bali for days

during the peak holiday season in July.

Airlines are concerned that ash could damage jet engines, even causing spontaneous failure in some cases. The eruption began Sunday.

"Volcanic ash, even if it's invisible, is very dangerous for aircraft," transport ministry spokesman Julius Barata told the DPA news agency.

Air traffic is

regularly disrupted by volcanic activity in Indonesia,

which is located in a basin of the Pacific Ocean home to about 130 active volcanoes, the greatest concentration in the world.

jar/jr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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