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13 Dec 2017 3:14
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  •   Home > News > International

    Mt Agung: Bali's international airport reopens to backlog of 100,000 passengers after eruptions

    Bali's international airport reopens and airline staff try to clear a backlog of about 100,000 passengers trying to leave before further eruptions from Mt Agung force the cancellation of more flights.

    Flights have resumed in and out of Bali's international airport and airline staff there are trying to clear abacklog of about 100,000 passengers.

    Jetstar and Qantas are operating 10 scheduled services and six relief flights today and early tomorrow to try to get as many Australians as possible out of Bali.

    Jetstar said it would prioritise passengers who had been stranded the longest.

    There is still a strong chance of more cancellations and delays due to volcanic ash and Jetstar is asking passengers due to travel to Bali before December 7 to consider cancelling their trip or changing the date of their travel.

    The airline said passengers would be able to make these changes free of charge.

    Regional airlines like Air Asia, Wings Air and Lion Air were the first to resume operations, but even if Qantas and Jetstar return to pre-volcano operations today, some passengers will not be able to catch direct flights to Australia until next week.

    Earlier, one passenger Keira Nolan, said she had been told the first available Jetstar flight to Perth was not until December 7.

    "We're going to try and go to another airport — we're going to catch a bus and a ferry and another bus for 12 hours or something like that — hopefully it's a straight direct flight not a 12-hour flight."

    With Mt Agung's ash cloud threatening to force more closures over the next few weeks, thousands of stranded passengers have decided it is smarter to travel to Indonesian airports on the island of Java, like Surabaya.

    The volcano continues to erupt and despite warnings from authorities for them to evacuate, many residents are refusing to move into shelters.

    Evacuation shelters that were packed with families eight weeks ago, when tremors started shaking the mountain, are now empty.

    There are 44,000 people in the shelters, far fewer than the 100,000 to 150,000 who have been asked to come in.

    Just inside the 10-kilometre exclusion zone, one stoic resident, 55-year-old Mangku Gegel, sat beside the road with a group of local men.

    He said he refused to leave his home and his four cows.

    "We don't know if it's going to explode," he said.

    "If it explodes, I will just hide inside my house."

    One of Mr Gegel's neighbours, Mangku Dalih, said he came into the exclusion zone each morning and left at night for an evacuation camp.

    He said he was staying inside the exclusion zone, until he got spooked earlier this week by the sight of the volcano's lava reflected onto the ash clouds.

    "Around 1:00 at night, I saw the red clouds, and the tremor was strong," he said.

    "I was sleeping I woke up and I saw the cloud, I woke my kid and asked him to take the whole family out, my wife, kids, and grandchildren.

    "I left everything, only these clothes.

    "I choose my life over things; if anything happens I can be safe."

    Mr Dalih said he was old enough to remember the last time Mt Agung erupted in 1963.

    "At 4:00pm there was a big sound, rocks falling from the sky, I was wondering who threw rocks at us," he said.

    "Suddenly there was a big explosion, there was no lava in this area, only sand and rocks. I ran with my parents."

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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