Indonesian authorities ordered a mass evacuation of people Monday from an expanded danger zone around an erupting volcano on Bali that has forced the island's international airport to close, stranding tens of thousands of travelers. Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark gray ash about 9,800 feet into the atmosphere since the weekend. Video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency showed a mudflow of volcanic debris and water known as a lahar moving down the volcano's slopes. The agency raised the volcano's alert to the highest level early Monday and expanded the danger zone to 6 miles in places, the AP reports. It said in a statement that a larger eruption is possible.
Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference in Jakarta that the extension of the danger zone affects 22 villages and about 90,000 to 100,000 people. He said about 40,000 people have evacuated but others have not left because they feel safe or don't want to abandon their livestock. "Authorities will comb the area to persuade them," he said. "If needed we will forcibly evacuate them." Bali's airport was closed early Monday after ash reached its airspace. An airport spokesman said 445 flights were canceled, stranding about 59,000 travelers. The closure is in effect until Tuesday morning though officials said the situation will be reviewed every six hours.
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