Flights in and out of Bali cancelled

Passengers in Perth arrive at the airport to find their flights are cancelled

Just after a few hours, the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2500 metre column of ash and smoke, the Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its global airport.

The airports, which were shut from 3 a.m. local time will remain closed at least until 9 p.m., PT Angkasa Pura, the state-run airport operator said in a statement.

Hundreds of people have been forced to flee their homes and 16,000 passengers have seen flights cancelled after a volcano erupted in Indonesia.

The major reason for cancelling the flights during a volcanic eruption is that it can damage engines, clog fuel and can even hamper visibility.

A man checks flight information board at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia Friday, which now closed due to volcanic ash.

Qantas released a statement today saying it was not "currently safe to operate flights to and from Denpasar Airport" after Mt Agung began shooting ash 2000 metres into the air on Thursday. However, the alert level for the volcano has not been raised and authorities are still monitoring Mount Agung, which is located in northeastern Bali. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.

The airport closure affected about 75,000 passengers internationally and resulted in almost 450 flights cancelled, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

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Ash is unsafe for planes as it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.

The volcano is about 75km from Bali's tourist hub in Kuta.

Flight Centre said a number of airlines flying from Australia to Bali had also opted to cancel or delay flights overnight and today.

An earlier flight on AirAsia was called off before the airport was shuttered early Friday morning. "So we've had two cancelled flights", Bird told AFP.

According to Nugroho, 309 residents living in a danger area 4km (2.5 miles) from the crater had voluntarily gone to three evacuation centres on Friday.

Agung has been erupting periodically since it rumbled back to life a year ago.

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