0126 GMT February 17, 2019
Authorities raised the alert to the highest level on Monday following the increased activity over the weekend. The move to close the airport came after tests showed the volcano’s ash had reached its airspace, making it dangerous to fly, foxnews.com reported.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled, leaving about 59,000 tourists stranded on the Island. The closure will continue until Tuesday, but officials said they are closely monitoring the situation and will determine every six hours whether the airport should remain closed.
“We now have to find a hotel and spend more of our money that they’re not going to cover us for when we get home unfortunately,” said Canadian tourist Brandon Olsen.
Officials at the Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement Monday that a volcanic eruption is ‘imminent’ though the exact scale remains unclear.
“Continuing plumes of smoke are occasionally accompanied by explosive eruptions and the sound of weak blasts that can be heard up to 12 km (seven miles) from the peak,” the statement read, according to Reuters.
“Rays of fire are increasingly visible from night to the following day. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent,” it added.
In addition to the closure of the airport, officials warned residents around the volcano to evacuate immediately, creating a six mile exclusion zone around the crater.
Bali is Indonesia’s top tourist destination, attracting about five million tourists every year. The volcano’s last major eruption was in 1963 and killed about 1,100 people.