Volcanic ash spewing from Indonesia’s Mount Raung has shutdown airports and cancelled flights on the resort island of Bali.
The volcano, located in East Java province, is about 95 miles west of Bali’s international airport. The mountain began rumbling several weeks ago and on Friday began belching ash 12,000 feet into the air.
NPR’s Anthony Kuhn says winds have blown the columns of smoke and ash southeast towards Bali and that towns and villages near Mt. Raung have been blanketed in ash since the volcano rumbled to life.
In all, five airports have been closed in Bali, Lombok and Java over fears that the ash could damage aircraft engines, government volcanologist Gede Suantika is quoted by The Associated Press as saying. Bali and Lombok, popular destinations for Australian holidaymakers.
“Ash can clog engines and harm other parts of the aircraft,” Indonesian Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Adravida Barata is quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
The BBC says scores of flights have been postponed or cancelled by airlines, including Jetstar and Virgin Australia and Indonesia’s Garuda.
The AP reminds us that: “Volcanic eruptions can cause significant and lengthy disruption to travel. A 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano produced an ash cloud that caused a week of international aviation chaos, with more than 100,000 flights canceled.”
Raung is one of 130 active volcanoes on Indonesia, an archipelago known as the Pacific Ring of Fire because it is perched above one of the earth’s major fault lines.