'Red warning' to airlines over Bali volcano

'Red warning' to airlines over Bali volcano

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in total, eight worldwide flights to Bali and 13 global flights departing from Bali were cancelled.

While the airport remains in operation, several major carriers have cancelled flights.

Air Asia was the latest airline to cancel flights, following earlier moves by Jetstar and Qantas.

However, Mount Agung's current eruption is still not considered risky.

Indonesia's disaster management agency said the eruptions were no longer "phreatic", which means they are triggered by water hitting superheated rocks and usually short-lived. Virgin, KLM and Air Asia Malaysia also cancelled several flights Saturday.

According to media reports, an estimated 25,000 people still live in temporary shelters after increased volcanic activity prompted fears of a major eruption forcing 140,000 local residents to flee the area. Government officials are insistent that the island remains safe for now outside of the area immediately surrounding Mount Agung.

Residents were evacuated from 224 points around the island while Lombok International Airport on Pulau Lombok, the island due east of Bali, has closed temporarily, said Ari Ahsan, spokesman for Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali.

Away from the airport, closer to the volcano, there are no new evacuations and so far no plans to extend an evacuation zone that reaches up to 7.5 kilometres from the crater.

Bali is a popular tourist destination, known for its seaside resorts and sandy beaches.

The aviation alert status for Bali has been lifted from "orange" to "red" but the airport will remain open until volcanic dust impacts the airport.

The last time the volcano had a major eruption, in 1963, more than 1,000 people perished.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

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