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Bali volcano alert raised to highest level

Bali volcano alert raised to highest level

Fears of an imminent major eruption of Bali's Mount Agung have increased and the evacuation zone around the volcano has been widened. Indonesian authorities have raised the state of alert to its highest level, media reports said.

After a rumbling volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali erupted several times over the weekend, authorities raised the alert to the highest level on Monday (Nov 27) and closed the international airport, stranding thousands of travelers.

Emitting thick plumes of smoke, Mount Agung has been hurling ash thousands of miles into the atmosphere since Saturday, which had already forced the small international airport on the neighboring island of Lombok to close as the plumes drifted east.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Bali's international airport, where most flights had been continuing, was closed for 24 hours. It said authorities would consider reopening it Tuesday after evaluating the situation. Video showed passengers on the tarmac at Bali's airport checking their phones and chatting.

Geological agency head, Kasbani, who goes by one name, said the alert level was raised at 6 a.m. because the volcano has shifted from steam-based eruptions to magmatic eruptions. However he says he's still not expecting a major eruption.

The exclusion zone around the crater was widened to six miles. Previously it ranged between 3.7 to 4.7 miles. Ash up to less than half an inch thick has settled on villages around the volcano and soldiers and police distributed masks over the weekend.