Published on Sunday, September 24, 2017

Airlines on alert as Bali volcano eruption imminent

A 'tremendous increase' in volcanic activity at rumbling Mount Agung in Bali has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents while authorities are bracing for an imminent eruption.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency raised the volcano alert to the maximum level at the weekend while the transportation ministry has made plans for nine airports on neighbouring islands to accommodate flights if it starts spewing volcanic ash.

The volcano last erupted more than 50 years ago sending ash clouds 10 km high and killing 1,100 people.

Indonesia's Centre for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation chief Kasbani said seismic activity ramped up over the weekend and he said an eruption will almost certainly happen.

"The signs are there that it will erupt. But when? No one can predict it."

For the time being airlines are still operating but are 'closely monitoring' the situation.

Virgin Australia is taking no chances and some flights will include a refuelling stop in Darwin en route to the holiday island.

"This ensures that if an eruption occurs while the aircraft is en route, we will be able to get guests back to their originating airport safely and quickly," Virgin said.

Jetstar said in a statement released Sunday: "Our pilots and meteorologists will continue to monitor the latest information from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre."

It comes at an unfortunate time as much of Australia is gearing up for the busy school holidays with more than 20 flights a day leaving Australia for the holiday island.

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