In Bali, a volcano spews smoke, new fears of eruption

Indonesian authorities have not raised the overall alert level, but did raise the Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation, or VONA, from "orange" to "red", the top level.

The latest alert - a red warning - means an eruption is forecast to be "imminent" after nearby locals spotted volcanic ash rain.

Authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from 224 points on the Indonesian island of Bali this weekend after the eruption of Mount Agung, which spewed huge clouds of potentially life-threatening ash into the atmosphere, CNN reported.

Last night, Mount Agung emitted a thick plume of smoke reaching 4,000m (13,100 feet), which has thrown airports into disarray and tourists into a panic.

The centre has not felt it necessary to raise the overall alert level, which remains at 3 on a scale of 1 to 4, nor to more strictly limit human activity around the volcano.

People living within 7.5 kilometers of the mountain have been told to evacuate, senior volcanologist Gede Suantika said, advising residents to remain calm.

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Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas announced flight cancellations as they are unwilling to risk flying through ash to reach their destination, with customers forced to sleep at Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Magma has been detected close to the surface on Mount Agung.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

About 25,000 people are thought to still be in temporary shelters after more than 140,000 people fled earlier this year.

It is also affecting some flight paths to Denpasar and creating complications for air traffic controllers who are steering planes away from the ash.

Israwadi, corporate secretary of airport authority PT Angkasa Pura 1 which supervises Bali's Ngurah Rai (Denpasar) worldwide airport, said pilots flying over Bali reported the ash being spewed out was not endangering flights.


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