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TWO friends have been left stranded near an erupting volcano after all flights from the holiday island Bali were cancelled.
Sarah Murphy, 40, and her friend Tina Lucke, 31, both from Brighton, had been due to fly home yesterday.
But with the island’s Mount Agung spewing clouds of ash into the atmosphere since the weekend, the authorities decided to shut the Ngurah Rai Airport yesterday.
Thousands of tourists are thought to be stranded near to be the deadly volcano, including the Brighton pair.
Ms Murphy, a Youth Hostel Association manager, said they were staying calm despite the danger.
She said: “The volcano is amazing to see. We honestly did not think too much about it and just imagined if it was to erupt it would be after we had left.
“There is not much we can do about it so I guess we just need to keep hoping they open the airport. I’m not worried about my safety at all at the moment as no-one else seems to be that worried, so it’s quite comforting in a way.
“The locals seem pretty relaxed about it all. I have a friend who lives out here and she says they have been preparing for months now. Apparently if it does erupt the electricity will get turned off as it reacts with the ash.”
Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark grey ash about 10,000ft into the atmosphere since the weekend and lava is welling up in its crater.
Its explosions can be heard seven to eight miles away.
Experts have predicted a larger eruption is likely in days. The volcano’s last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.
Indonesian authorities have ordered a mass evacuation of the area with many locals now living in evacuation shelters.
UK travel trade organisation Abta warned the volcanic ash clouds could result in further airport closures.
A spokeswoman said: “Anyone due to travel to the region imminently should check with their travel provider or airline to establish if their holiday or flight is affected.”
In 2010, an eruption of a volcano in Iceland produced an ash cloud that caused a week of aviation chaos – with more than 100,000 flights cancelled across the UK and the rest of the world.
Indonesia’s Directorate General of Land Transportation said 100 buses were being deployed to Bali’s international airport and to ferry terminals to help stranded travellers.
The agency said major ferry crossing points have been advised to prepare for a surge in passengers and vehicles. Stranded tourists could leave Bali by taking a ferry to Java and then travelling by land to the nearest airports.
Ash has already settled in towns and villages around the volcano and experts predict lava will start flowing down its slopes in the coming days.
Source: The Argus