Friday, July 10, 2015


     Jakarta, July 10, 2015 (Antara) - The eruption of Mount Raung has forced temporary closure of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, since July 9, with the ash cloud drifting towards one of the world's most famous tourist islands.
     Besides Ngurah Rai Airport, four other Indonesian airports, mainly Lombok International Airport, and Selaparang Airport in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Blimbingsari Airport in Banyuwangi, East Java Province, and Notohadinegoro Airport in Jember, East Java, were also shut down temporarily due to the eruption of the volcano located on the borders of Banyuwangi, Bondowoso and Jember Districts, East Java Province.
     Directorate General of Air Transportation of the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has issued a notice to airmen (Notam) regarding the closing of the five airports in anticipation of the hazard from the Mount Raung volcanic ash.
     But Bali, which is packed with tourists spending their summer holidays, is the worst affected by the natural disaster.

     Some 277 flights to and from I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport were cancelled due to the volcano eruption that started a week ago.
     "Of the 277 flights, 160 are domestic flights and 117 are international flights," General Manager of the airport's Angkasa Pura I subsidiary, Trikora Harjo, informed the press in Kuta, Bali, on July 10, 2015.
         On July 9, the airport in Bali temporarily shut down operations. However, it was expected to resume operations on July 10, at 9:30 p.m. local time.  
    Thousands of passengers stranded at the airport on July 10, due to the cancellation of flights were accommodated in hotels, but some remained at the airport hoping for the resumption of the airport's operations expected to be announced later in the day.
         PT Angkasa Pura I has set up three crisis centers at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport to serve passengers affected by the cancellation of their flights.
         "The three crisis centers are located at the international terminal, domestic terminal, and emergency technical and operation area," Trikora Harjo said.
         The airport has also set up customer service telephone lines. These are 0361-9351011 extension 6309 for information on international flights and extension 4173 for domestic flights.
         As the airport has halted operations due to the volcanic eruption, it will not charge airplanes stranded there.
         The volcanic ash expelled by Mount Raung reached heights ranging between 17,000 meters and 20,000 meters, which posed a threat to flights.
         The information was obtained from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin, Australia, and the Denpasar branch of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.    
    Mount Raung erupted on July 5, spewing plumes of smoke, incandescent cinder, and lava. One of the active volcanoes on Java Island, it is 3,332 meters above sea level.
         "Mount Raung's eruption is a strombolian-type one," Head of the Data and Information Center of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency Nugroho said in a broadcast message on July 5.
         A strombolian eruption is a relatively low-level volcanic eruption that includes ejection of incandescent cinder and thin lava, with medium pressured gases. The eruption is not too strong but is continuous and long-lasting, Nugroho explained.
         The authority is still imposing an exclusion zone of three kilometers from the mount's peak, with alert status at level III.
         It has distributed 120 thousand masks and has its personnel on standby at a few mitigation posts.
         Volcanic ash from the mount rained over the two villages of Sumberejo in Banyuputih sub-district and Bantal in Asembagus sub-district, Situbondo district. However, people's activities continued as usual.
         Mount Raung has a 2-kilometer-wide caldera surrounded by a grayish rim. The difference in color between the rim and the flanks of the volcano is caused by the lack of vegetation along the rim as compared to the healthy and extensive vegetation in the flanks.  
    Earlier, the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center had warned all airlines to avoid flying over the volcanic ashes being spewed by Mount Raung.
         "The active crater of Mount Raung is expelling volcanic ash to heights of 300 to 500 meters. However, there is potential for them to be even higher due to the winds," Head of Volcanic Monitoring and Observation of Western Areas Hendra Gunawan said recently.
         Grayish smoke could be seen at heights of 400 to 500 meters, being blown by winds towards eastern and southeastern regions, he added.
         "Flights should be aware of the volcanic ashes of Mount Raung as they can reach heights of 1 kilometer," Gunawan pointed out.
         Indonesia's flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia Airlines is one of the domestic airways hit hardest by the disaster.
         Garuda has cancelled 112 flights to avoid aviation hazards and to ensure passenger safety.
         The 112 cancelled flights include 27 return flights on the Jakarta-Denpasar route, 11 return flights on the Denpasar-Surabaya route, six return flights on the Denpasar-Yogyakarta route, and two return flights on the Denpasar-Timika route, apart from four return flights on the Denpasar-Labuan Bajo route, two return flights on the Denpasar-Kupang route, four return flights on the Denpasar-Makassar route, and two return flights on the Denpasar-Dili route. The other flights cancelled are two return flights on the Denpasar-Manado route, and two return flights on the Denpasar-Semarang route.
    Another airline, Lion Air Airlines has cancelled 12 of its flights in response to the disaster.
         The cancelled flights were those serving Surabaya - Denpasar - Surabaya, Cengkareng - Denpasar -Cengkareng, Yogyakarta - Denpasar - Yogyakarta, and Surabaya - Lombok - Surabaya, apart from Cengkareng - Lombok - Cengkareng, and Yogyakarta - Lombok - Yogyakarta.
         Earlier, on July 9, two Australian airlines - Virgin Australia and Jetstar, cancelled 16 Bali-bound flights due to the Mount Raung eruption.
        That was the third time in recent weeks that the two Australian airlines cancelled flights to the island.
        On the night of July 2, Jetstar cancelled six flights to Bali citing security reasons. On July 4, Virgin Australia cancelled seven flights.  
  "We regret the impact that these cancellations have had on our passengers, particularly during the busy school holiday period, but we will always prioritize safety before schedule," Jetstar management said in a statement quoted by Australian media ABC recently. ***1***
10-07-2015 23:21:26

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