Volcano leaves tourists stranded at Indonesia airports

Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island blasts ash and debris into the air, prompting authorities to ground hundreds of flights.

| Weather, Environment, Asia, Indonesia

Thousands of tourists are stranded on three Indonesian islands after ash from the Mount Rinjani volcano forced the closure of three airports, and blanketed villages and farmlands.

Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island, which began erupting earlier this week, blasted ash and debris 3,500 metres into the air on Wednesday said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman.

The closure of the airports affected a total of 692 international and domestic flights, which were either cancelled or delayed, the ministry said.

Indonesia will extend Tuesday's closure of Ngurah Rai International Airport on the popular Bali resort island to Thursday, an official said.

Airlines were told to avoid routes near the mountain and a decision about reopening the airports will be made early on Thursday, said ministry spokesman Julius Barata.

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