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Lombok airport reopens, as Bali's volcano alert status lowered

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Lombok's international airport has resumed operations after flights were suspended for a day due to ash clouds from Bali's Moung Agung volcano.

[JAKARTA] Lombok's international airport has resumed operations after flights were suspended for a day due to ash clouds from Bali's Moung Agung volcano.

Indonesia's airport operator Angkasa Pura on Friday said the airport reopened at 8.50am local time, after winds shifted the volcanic ash away from Lombok.

The Volcano Observation Notice for Aviation (VONA) alert code - which reflects conditions at or near a volcano for the purpose of air-travel safety during a volcanic eruption - was also lowered by a notch from red to orange, as the winds changed direction from south-west to south-east.

An orange VONA alert means a volcano "is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption, or volcanic eruption is underway with no or minor ash emission", according to the World Organisation of Volcano Observatories.

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This means both airports nearest to Mount Agung are now operating normally, allowing thousands of tourists stranded, mostly on Bali, to return home.

The evacuation of villages located in Karangasem, the regency in east Bali where Mount Agung lies, continues, with more than 48,600 residents now in living in shelters, said Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho on Friday.

While the situation in Bali has shown signs of improvement, extreme weather conditions in Indonesia, led by Cyclone Cempaka, were wrecking havoc elsewhere across Java island.

Dr Sutopo said almost 3,000 people in Pacitan regency, south-west of East Java, have been displaced by floods and landslides, with at least 27 dead and some missing.

According to a BNPB statement, while Cyclone Cempaka is expected to move away from Indonesia, another tropical cyclone, dubbed Cyclone Dahlia, is closing in.

The agency has urged the public to be prepared for heavy rainfall as weather forecasts indicate that Cyclone Dahlia will be over the south-eastern part of the Indian Ocean with a maximum wind-speed of 95kph.

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