Indonesian authorities briefly shut down the airport on the island of Bali, sparking flight cancellations during peak holiday season. This is only the latest in the string of disruptions due to nearby volcanoes.
A major airport on the island of Bali was temporarily closed on Thursday due to ash drifting from Mount Raung on Java island, Indonesian transport ministry said. The volcano has been showing increased activity in the last five days, experts said, with eruptions intensifying on Thursday.
"The volcano normally shoots out ash 700 (2,300 feet) to 800 meters but it's around 1,000 meters today," Indonesian government volcanologist Gede Suantika told the AFP news agency.
After the news of the shutdown, Australian carriers Jetstar and Virgin Australia announced they were canceling flights in and out from the popular island resort. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport, according to local media.
Record number of volcanoes
Thursday's was the fourth closure of the international airport since Mount Raung started spewing ash and lava in late June. The activity forced the authorities to temporarily shut down several airports in the area.
The Java volcano also closed the Bali airport from July 9 to 12, cancelling almost 900 flights.
Indonesia has some 130 active volcanoes on its soil, more than any other country in the world. Air traffic disruptions due to volcanic ash and smoke are relatively common.
However, the country remains a popular tourist destination, with Bali alone attracting millions of tourists every year.
dj/sms (AFP, dpa)