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Indonesian airport tries to get stranded tourists home amid volcano eruption scare

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-01 13:31

DENPASAR, Indonesia - As volcanic activities of Mount Agung have yet to recede with the alert remaining the highest, the airport in Indonesia's Bali island took cautious approaches to secure stranded tourists to get home after it reopened on Wednesday afternoon.

Intensive coordination was applied by Indonesia's related agencies to secure flights serving in the island, according to a spokesman of the airport administrator.

At I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Arie Ahsanurrohim told Xinhua that the airport was still in recovery and another closure could take place in the near future should volcanic ash affect the airport.

"As of today and tomorrow, operations at the airport were still in recovery. Intensive coordination between officials of related institutions was underway through messaging apps groups so as to quicken the decision making," Arie said.

"We have predicted that the condition in the next day would be improving. Volcanic ashes are going away from the airport," he said

The Bali airport reopened shortly after Volcanic Aviation Alert was lowered from a red alert to orange as wind blew away ash and billowing black smoke spewed out by Mount Agung.

As operations at the Bali airport resumed, it is ready to accommodate flights from other closed airports affected by the Mount Agung volcanic activities, he said.

According to Arie, Bali international airport authorities have issued new approvals for 26 flights to fly since its reopening, mostly serving flights to and from China.

He added that 24 planes stranded in the airport since Monday have also departed shortly after the airport reopening.

To serve passengers stranded in Bali, the airport provided spaces for officials from consulates of various countries to help their nationalities.

"This is to ease those who already suffered from the dire situation," Arie said, adding that more than 118,000 passengers were affected by cancellation of flights since Monday's closure.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has also called for government agencies to intensify coordination in providing assistances for stranded tourists, including visa extensions for those whose visas expired during the airport closure period.

Arie said that the airport also continues providing buses for tourists planning to continue their trips via land transport to several cities outside Bali.

Authorities in Bali's Karangasem regency that hosts the volcano had imposed emergency response status within two weeks from Nov. 27 to Dec. 10.

Over 43,300 people have been evacuated to more than 229 shelters in 22 villages in several regencies.

Mount Agung volcano took more than 1,500 lives in its most devastating eruption in 1963.

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