Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali may be closed for three days due to the eruption of Mount Agung, coupled with cyclone, Secretary General of the Transportation Ministry Sugihardjo said.
"Based on the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agencys forecast, there will be a cyclone for three to four days," he stated after a press conference here on Tuesday.
In November and December, the wind usually moves east or southeast, but because of the cyclone, it has started moving southwest, he noted.
"(Ash from) Mount Agung had initially moved in an east or southeast direction and affected Lombok Airport, but because of the cyclone, it has started to move in the south and southwest direction and has affected Ngurah Rai Airport," he remarked.
Sugihardjo called on the public to remain alert for any unpredictable natural disasters.
"If the cyclone has passed, the ash may move in the direction of Lombok," he explained.
He added that the government has taken anticipatory steps by designating 10 alternative airports and providing 100 buses to transport passengers.
The buses will take passengers to Mengwi terminal or other destinations, including Gilimanuk ferry port, to travel to Banyuwangi, East Java.
"From Banyuwangi, they can take a flight or train to travel to Surabaya," he elaborated.
The Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has raised the alert status of Mount Agung from alert level III to IV, the highest, indicating eruption hazards.
The authorities stated that dark smoke and ash have been billowing up to 3,400 meters above the mountains peak, thereby prompting officials to shut down Balis Ngurah Rai Airport from Monday until Tuesday evening.
The 3,142-meter-high volcano has been rumbling since August 2017.
On Nov 21, Mount Agung had erupted, releasing volcanic ash and smoke some 700 meters high from the crater at 5:05 p.m. local time.
Director of Air Transportation of the Ministry of Transportation Maria Kristi Endah Murni said at least 445 flights were canceled due to the eruption of Mount Agung.
Source: ANTARA News