Jetstar and Virgin Australia have cancelled more Sunday rescue flights out of Bali as the race to get stranded passengers back from tropical holidays was again thrown into turmoil.
The new cancellation of flights come as experts brace for a violent eruption from Mount Agung, which first grounded flights a week ago.
Jetstar had already announced that seven of its flights for Saturday had been cancelled, along with two to Perth — JQ7008 and JQ117 — for tomorrow morning. It will not fly out of Bali again before 1pm Sunday and will reassess the situation tomorrow, although the chances of flying on Sunday afternoon appear dim.
The airline was due to operate five flights back to Australia including three to Perth – JQ107, JQ109 and JQ7006.
The airline, like Virgin Australia, will not take passengers up to Bali because of ongoing concerns about an explosive eruption, which is forecast by volcanologists.
It says that it will review that position over coming days.
The latest graphics from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre show the wind changing later today could bring the ash cloud back towards Denpasar Airport.
Significant tremors around Mount Agung are continuing and the time between them is decreasing while their strength is increasing, according to the Indonesian seismic reports.
There was another major one overnight.
A major escalation of the eruption is expected at any time.
However, there has been a reduction in the amount of ash coming from Mount Agung prompting some officials to comment that the eruption may be over.
But on Twitter, noted volcanologist Dr Janine Krippner said that “this does not mean it is over”.
“Fluctuations in activity are a normal part of the life of volcanoes,” Dr Krippner said.
Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre also warned that a more violent eruption remains likely with the crater of Mount Agung’s one-third filed with magma.
“We calculate it based on the monitoring results of Himawari satellite images of seismic recording data, deformation and geochemistry,” said Gede Suantika at the Agung Observation Post in Rendang Village
The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite has captured an image of sulphur dioxide from the Mount Agung volcanic eruption.
NASA has also released an image taken from its Terra satellite which shows volcanic ash billowing out of Mount Agung.
Nasa’s Earth Observatory said: “The plume appears to rise from two vents in the volcano’s crater.”
Devy Kamil Syahbana, a volcanologist at the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation told The Times that “we are still in an eruptive, or critical, phase. Lava is filling the crater. The magma is already on the surface ... the satellite image shows the lava is already expelled through the central vent and it’s growing.”
Dr Syahbana added: “We don’t know yet ... we can’t predict when or how big the eruption will be.”