UK & World News

  • 1 June 2014, 0:20

Ash Cloud From Volcanic Eruption Hits Flights

A volcano has erupted in Indonesia, sending a huge ash cloud into the sky.

The plume, between 6-10 miles high, the cruising altitude for commercial aircraft, is causing major disruption to flights in the region, grounding planes in parts of Indonesia and northern Australia.

Darwin International Airport was closed to all inbound and outbound flights on Saturday and Bali's airspace was also affected.

Mount Sangeang Api blew on Friday and there have been at least two more eruptions since then.

There are now three separate ash plumes and the volcano, off the northeast coast of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, is continuing to discharge debris.

The major one affecting Australian aviation is near Darwin and sweeping southeast over the west side of the Northern Territory as far south as Alice Springs.

A second, hovering north of Darwin and also up to 10 miles in the air, may cause problems for flights between Australia and Malaysia and Singapore, according to meteorologist Tim Birch.

A third, lower-level plume is drifting west from the volcano and is within 60 miles of Bali.

"The volcano is still erupting as it has done for most of the day - not as violently as it initially erupted but there is a steady plume," Mr Birch said.

There were no reports of any deaths or injuries.

Qantas and Virgin Australia confirmed all their flights to and from Darwin have been cancelled, including some overseas routes.

Some flights between Perth and Bali have also been cancelled.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said it may be days before flights in northern Australia return to normal.

Mount Sangeang Api last erupted 15 years ago.

Indonesia lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire" with nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.

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