Asia

Indonesia volcanic ash grounds tourists for third day

Passengers wait for information on delayed and cancelled flights at the international departure area of Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar on November 4 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An uncomfortable wait for passengers stranded by ash

Tourists and travellers in Indonesia have been stranded for a third day, as volcanic ash has forced the closure of airports on three islands.

Bali's Denpasar airport has been shut since Tuesday after Mount Rinjani on Lombok island began erupting.

Two airports on Lombok and Java have also been closed due to the risk posed by the drifting ash plume.

About 700 flights - and the transfer of one of Interpol's most wanted men - have been affected.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Indonesian officials said local people were not in danger from Mt Rinjani

Debris from Mount Rinjani has spewed 3,500m (11,480 ft) into the air, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.

Nearby towns have been blanketed in grey ash, but locals are not in danger, spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Airport officials said the volcanic ash from Mount Rinjani east of Bali has been blowing over Denpasar airspace

Jetstar said it had cancelled all of its Thursday flights in and out of Denpasar, also known as Ngurah Rai, airport.

"We've been advised Denpasar Airport will remain closed until tomorrow as the Mount Rinjani ash cloud continues to make flying conditions around Bali unsafe," the airline said in a statement.

Virgin Australia and Air Asia have also been forced to ground flights.


Your rights: Do airlines have to give you a new flight?

All airlines should do their best to help a passenger complete their journey, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK aviation regulator, told the BBC in July.

"The airline has to get you home," he said. "Outside of the EU, you're on slightly less firm ground, though. Passenger rights are nowhere near as well-developed elsewhere as they are in the EU. European passengers are very well-protected."

If your flight is cancelled and you are in a hurry to travel, but an airline is unhelpful, the CAA spokesman said the best option would be to buy a new ticket and pursue the matter later with your insurance company and the airline's national regulator.

When it comes to compensation however, an ash cloud is outside an airline's control and is classed in the same category as bad weather, meaning there is not a lot companies can do, the CAA said.


Detainee transfer delay

The deportation of an alleged Indian underworld don has also been delayed by the airport closure, police say.

Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, also known in India as Chota Rajan or "Little Rajan", was detained when he flew into Bali airport from Sydney last month.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Nikalje, 55, is wanted in the western Indian city of Mumbai in connection with at least 17 cases of murder

Police acted on a tip-off from Australian authorities, who said Nikalje had been living in the country under a different name.

Interpol's website states that Nikalje was born in Mumbai, and is wanted on multiple charges including murder and possession and use of illegal firearms.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The entire airport in Denpasar, Bali has been shut down
Image copyright AP
Image caption Some 700 flights have been cancelled to and from the popular tourist resort

Chris Davies from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin in Australia's north told the BBC earlier this year that it does not take much ash to interfere with flights.

"The most dangerous aspect for aviation is that modern jet engines pull in so much air and the ash concentrates in engines and turns into a kind of molten glass," Mr Davies said.

"The ash melts, coats inside of the engine and affects fuel flow, so in the worst case scenario it can cause engines to shut off."

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