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Indonesia volcanic eruption interrupts Australian flights

Sydney, May 31 (): Flights coming in and going out of northern Australian city Darwin were on Saturday cancelled and few flights to Bali were also affected as massive ash clouds were thrown up from an Indonesian volcano.

The Sangeang Api volcano off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa is erupting endlessly after an early explosion on Friday afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin said on Friday. The ashes of the volcano are sweeping south in the direction of Australia, leading Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar to cancel flights to Darwin.

Warren Truss, Deputy Prime Minister cautioned more airports of Australia might be affected as the authorities observed three distinct ash plumes. He said dependent on weather conditions and wind, the ash might affect flights from and to other airports, in the coming days, including Brisbane.

Now, the ash cloud is sweeping the south-east direction over west side of Northern Territory till Alice Springs of South, said a meteorologist expert, Tim Birch of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.

He said that the plume currently affecting Darwin will remain there for next 18 hours. The plume that starts to move in the east direction will move out of Northern Territory and then move steadily in the eastern direction in the site of Queensland’s Mount Isa and it would start to disperse.

A second ash cloud was flying north side of Darwin about 9.5 km and 16 km in air, and it could affect flights between Australia and Singapore and Malaysia.

And a third one, a lower-level ash cloud is drifting in the western direction from the volcano that lies within 100km of Bali and off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa.

Virginia Sanders from Darwin International Airport said it is unclear when the flights would resume their services. Virgin Australia has released an alert, saying that they would restart normal processes as soon as the volcanic ash allows it safely.