Indonesia ready to divert tourists as volcano rumbles
KARANGASEM - Agence France-Presse
Indonesian authorities were on standby on Sept. 27 to divert flights destined for the holiday island of Bali as increasingly frequent tremors from a rumbling volcano stoke fears an eruption could be imminent.
Mount Agung, 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August, threatening to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years and forcing more than 80,000 people to flee their homes.
Bali attracts millions of foreign visitors every year to its palm-fringed beaches and an eruption would be a blow to its tourism-dependent economy.
The airport in Bali’s capital Denpasar has not been affected, but several countries including Australia and Singapore have issued advisories warning travelers to exercise caution.
In the case of an eruption, Indonesia plans to divert flights headed for Bali to ten other airports, including on nearby Lombok and the capital Jakarta.
“The planes will be diverted to their nearest location or where it originally took off from,” transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi said.
Airlines are watching the situation closely and 100 buses have been prepared to evacuate tourists.
Virgin Australia said it would be making an extra fuel stop in Darwin for some of its flights between Australia and Bali in case it is forced to turn back.
Singapore Airlines said customers travelling between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2 could rebook flights or ask for a refund.