The Canadian Press

Erupting volcano traps Canadians in Bali

Canadians stuck in Bali as Mount Agung erupts, cancelling flights

Some Canadians were trapped in Bali on Monday after Indonesian authorities ordered 100,000 people to flee from an erupting volcano that prompted the closure of the international airport.

Global Affairs Canada said 403 Canadians in Bali have registered with its Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

“As registration is voluntary, this is not necessarily a complete picture of Canadians in the region,” Global Affairs spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell said in an email.

One person who is stuck is Chantal Desjardins, a Montreal-based media personality and standup comic who was due to fly out Tuesday.

Desjardins told The Canadian Press that local reports suggest the biggest eruption was yet to come, so the situation was “getting a little bit real now.”

She was at a hotel about 70 kilometres away, and there was no word on evacuating her area.

Desjardins said according to her airline, the earliest she’ll be able to leave is next Tuesday.

“We were supposed to leave tomorrow and we found out all of the airlines are cancelled and the first flight out is going to be December 5th,” Desjardins said. “So my holiday just got extended by a little bit.”

Bali’s airport was closed early Monday after ash reached its airspace. Flight information boards showed rows of cancellations as tourists arrived at the busy airport expecting to catch flights home.

An airport spokesman said 445 flights were cancelled, stranding about 59,000 travellers. The closure was to be in effect until Tuesday morning, although officials said the situation would be reviewed every six hours.

“We now have to find a hotel and spend more of our money that they’re not going to cover us for when we get home unfortunately,” Canadian tourist Brandon Olsen, who was stranded at Bali’s airport with his girlfriend, told the Associated Press.

Bali is Indonesia’s top tourist destination, with its gentle Hindu culture, surf beaches and lush green interior attracting about five million visitors a year.

Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark grey ash about 3,000 metres into the atmosphere since the weekend and lava was welling up in the crater, sometimes reflected as a reddish-yellow glow in the ash plumes.

Desjardins was within several kilometres of the volcano a few days ago.

“We saw some of the ashes coming up and we thought ‘oh, this is really cool!’,” she said. “Now, it’s like, maybe I could have watched it on the news and it still could have been cool from another place.”

The country raised its volcano alert to the highest level early Monday and expanded the danger zone to 10 kilometres.

“Apparently, the biggest one (eruption) is yet to come, and it could go off in the next couple of days, it’s getting a little bit scary,” Desjardins said.

Messages were sent to registered Canadians on Monday and the federal department’s advisory for Indonesia was updated over the weekend.

Only one Canadian in the region has requested information, and Maxwell says they are ready to provide consular assistance as needed.

— Canadians requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the nearest Canadian government office or the Global Affairs Canada 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa by collect phone call at +1 613 996 8885 or by email at sos@international.gc.ca

The Canadian Press

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