A volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali rumbled to life with eruptions that dusted nearby resorts and villages with ash and forced the closure of the small international airport on neighboring Lombok island as towering gray plumes drifted east. Mount Agung erupted Saturday evening and three times early Sunday, lighting its cone with an orange glow and sending ash 13,000 feet into the atmosphere. It is still gushing and ash clouds have forced the closure of Lombok island's airport until at least 6am Monday. Most scheduled domestic and international flights were continuing Sunday at Bali's busy airport after a rash of cancellations Saturday evening. Disaster officials said less than half an inch of ash settled on villages around the volcano and soldiers and police distributed masks. Authorities warned anyone in the exclusion zone, which extends 4.5 miles from the crater in places, to leave.
Made Sugiri, an employee at Mahagiri Panoramic Resort, located around 6 miles from the crater, said a thin layer of volcanic ash reached the area. "We are out of the danger zone, but like other resorts in the region, of course the eruptions cause a decrease in the number of visitors," he said, per the AP. "I think these latest eruptions are more dangerous, given the thick clouds it's releasing." Government volcanologist Gede Suantika said a red-yellow light visible in ash above the mountain was the reflection of lava in the crater. About 25,000 people have been unable to return to their homes since September, when Agung showed signs of activity for the first time in more than half a century. The volcano's last major eruption, in 1963, killed about 1,100. Mount Agung's alert status was raised to the highest level in September following a dramatic increase in tremors from the volcano.
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