The Indonesian island of Bali has temporarily opened its main airport after a three-day closure due to an imminent volcanic eruption from Mount Agung. Thick ash and smoke has been spewing from Mount Agung since Saturday, which blocked flight paths for Ngurah Rai International Airport and prompted the call for about 100,000 residents to be evacuated from the surrounding area.
According to NPR, shortly after officials had decided to keep the airport closed again on Wednesday, they reversed their decision and announced it reopened at 3 p.m. local Bali time.
About two dozen villages in a 7.5-mile radius around the base of Agung have been urged to leave — about 100,000 people in total. https://t.co/TVJSpAifJw
— NPR (@NPR) November 29, 2017
Reports say that officials will continue to monitor the airspace and evaluate it every six hours, hinting that the airport could very well close again if conditions worsen.
With a bigger eruption anticipated, NPR speculates that “the sudden move to reopen the airport seemed aimed at quickly clearing out stranded tourists.”
The Sydney Morning Herald also reported that increased seismic activity was detected at Mount Agung on Tuesday evening during a 30-minute long tremor inside the crater. They also estimated that 120,000 tourists had been stranded without a way off the island.
While residents have been told to evacuate, and some 40,000 people are currently in shelters, many have chosen to stay to protect their property or because they feel safe there, as reported by NPR. Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,700 people at the time.
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