Volcanic ash grounds Bali flights, Australians stranded

Thousands of Australians are left stranded in Bali after Mount Agung's volcanic activity intensifies, showing signs of a bigger eruption on the way.

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jetstar plane grounded
Volcanic ash has meant planes from Jetstar and other major airlines are downed until further notice. Photo: Isnewsroom, Pixabay

The experience of a Bali getaway has been ruined for many Australians as they may be stranded for several days in the wake of a volcanic ash cloud. The increased activity of the Mount Agung volcano has concerned scientists who have advised airlines to keep their planes on the ground.

Mount Agung has been getting increasingly volatile over the last few weeks and this week the Indonesian government has gone on high alert. Experts are warning that a lava eruption may be imminent.

With the volcanos’ activity escalating rapidly, it has launched large amounts of steam and dangerous ash up to 9 kilometres into the air. The Indonesian volcanic observatory is on its highest level of alert and is predicting a larger eruption to occur soon.

445 flights, with 196 being international were cancelled on Monday, leaving nearly 60,000 passengers stranded and anxious about when they will get home. This number includes thousands of Australian who have undoubtedly had their holiday plans ruined by these events.

Travellers have been forced to sleep on the floors of the airport or make a longer round trip around Indonesia to get back to Australia. Many report their families at home are concerned for their well-being.

Australian travellers are frustrated with a lack of communication from airlines, although Jetstar and Virgin have promised they are working on getting planes out as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has told Australians to be cautious and plan for delays in getting back to Australia. They have also stated to follow the directions of local authorities and expect tourism or other travel services to be unavailable.

The last time Mt Agung erupted in 1963 it killed over 1000 people and destroyed many villages in the area. Modern weather detection and prevention methods are being used to reduce the amount of damage a new eruption could cause.

Volcanic ash poses a huge danger to airplanes as it can harden inside turbines which can cause the engine to stall. For this reason it’s obvious why airlines don’t want to take the risk.

As winds change the level of ash in the surrounding airspace will vary and it is currently hard to predict how long it will be inappropriate for commercial flight. Until weather authorities deem the ash to be receding it’s unlikely any flights will depart from Bali anytime soon.

Until the greenlight is given to airlines Australians in Bali will either have to wait out the storm or take a longer route home.