Authorities on the Indonesia island of Bali reopened Denpasar Airport on Wednesday. The facility had been closed since Monday because ash from the volcanic eruption of Mt Agung would have posed a real safety threat to any aircraft landing or taking off.
Although the airport was still open last night, a spokesperson warned that if the ash situation worsened gain it would be closed. He added that most tourists were unlikely to be able to leave right away as the backlog of flights from the three-day shutdown still had to be cleared.
Seismologists had been warning for several weeks that Mt Agung was on the verge of a major eruption. Last week she obliged and started spewing smoke and ash three kilometres up into the air. The experts said the worst was still to come and the risk level was raised to red on Monday.
Denpasar Airport spokesperson Ari Ahsanurrohim said the airport closure on Monday and Tuesday resulted in the cancellation of around 800 flights. This disrupted the travel schedules of more than 100,000 people. Whether the airport stayed open was up to the vagaries of Mt Agung and whether the wind switched directions.
Houses, trees and more or less any other standing object on Bali has been covered with volcanic dust. Mt Agung is on the east side of the island and 80kms from North and South Kuta and Denpasar Airport. Indonesian disaster management officials have placed a 10km zone around the volcano off limits.