Bali airport reopens but Agung volcano at "maximum risk" of eruption

Mount Agung's mighty ash cloud hides rising molten lava
Mount Agung's mighty ash cloud hides rising molten lava Copyright Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana/via REUTERS
By Robert Hackwill
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Bali's international airport is to reopen after being closed for three days after ash from Mount Agung grounded planes.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo implored residents living in a zone around Agung deemed at risk to seek refuge in emergency centres, as winds sending an ash cloud southwest across the island that halted flights changed direction.

Continuous and powerful tremors from the volcano have forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people, as the last big eruption, in 1963, had similar warning signs. Alert levels are now at their highest.

It means tens of thousands of tourists are stranded on the island. One estimate said 59,000 holidaymakers were trapped, but the change in wind direction means jet engines can now fly safely again away from particulate-laden air. 

For those evacuated temporary shelters have been set up for some of the people from the 22 villages within a near-10-kilometre "red zone" told to leave their homes "immediately".

After a week of producing ash Agong is now brimming with molten lava and could erupt at any time. The 1963 event killed more than 1000 people and razed several villages.

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