Ash blankets villages, flights cancelled after Bali volcano erupts

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The Mount Agung volcano on Bali erupted with greater force Sunday, prompting some airlines to cancel flights to and from the popular resort island and forcing an worldwide airport on a nearby resort island to close, according to local officials.

Despite the raised alert status, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in the provincial capital of Denpasar was still operating as normal, an airport official said.

Indonesia's Mount Agung has erupted for the second time this week leaving thousands of passengers flying in and out of Bali stranded.

"Tourism in Bali is still safe, except in the danger (zone) around Mount Agung", the agency said in a statement. Ash from the volcano reached some 4,900 feet in the air.

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. Anyone within that distance of the peak was advised to evacuate.

Authorities have begun distributing masks in some areas as ash falls.

7.2 magnitude natural disaster strikes Iran-Iraq border region - USGS
The centre was reported by the USGS to be in the southeast of Iraq's Sulaymaniya province, close to the Iranian border. The United States Geological Survey reports a preliminary magnitude 7.2 quake struck near Halabjah, Iraq on Sunday.

The mountain's last major eruption occurred in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.

According to the Volcanic Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) system, winds carried the ash in an eastern and southeastern direction.

Away from the airport, closer to the volcano, there are no new evacuations and so far no plans to extend an evacuation zone that reaches up to 7.5 kilometres from the crater.

However, according to Phys.org, while scientists believe Mount Agung will continue to smoke for up to a month or more, a similar eruption is not considered particularly likely now.

Most recently, the 3,142-metre volcano spewed grey smoke and ash as high as 700 metres Tuesday, and again Saturday to twice that height, before beginning to emit lava Sunday.

GettyBalinese people look at Mount Agung during an eruption seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26.

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