Okanagan residents board flights home from Bali

Flights are moving out of Bali and stranded Canadians are onboard

Kelowna residents who were stranded in Bali when volcanic ash and soot made flying impossible are on their way home.

Gina Petrovich was on a layover in the Hong Kong airport Thursday morning, en route home, when she got the message fellow Kelowna residents Brandon Olson, Mackenzie Peslova and their 14-month-old daughter, Eden had also boarded a flight out of Bali.

“We are all coming home,” said Petrovich, Thursday morning.


“The Bali airport was a zoo … it was OK once check in was completed.”

Before the airport opened, Global Affairs Canada said 403 Canadians in Bali have registered with its Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

Mount Agung, however, has yet to get under control. For the last week it’s been spewing clouds of white and dark grey ash about 3,000 metres above its cone and lava is welling in the crater. Its explosions can be heard about 12 kilometres away.

Maps released by the Pacific Disaster Centre show that clouds of volcanic ash from Mount Agung are spreading east-southeast, adding further misery to those hoping to fly off the island.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Bali’s disaster mitigation agency, said the ash is being impacted by the Cempaka tropical cyclone, which is currently raging south of the island.

Pictures coming out of Bali show evacuees building temporary shelters as they seek to escape the threat of Mount Agung.

Authorities have told 100,000 people to leave an area extending up to 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the volcano. About 40,000 people are staying in 225 shelters, the disaster agency said, but tens of thousands more have stayed they feel safe or don’t want to abandon homes and livestock.

In the village of Tulamben inside the exclusion zone, farmers were plowing their fields with cattle Wednesday, seemingly unbothered by the smoking mountain behind them swelling with orange lava.

In Sukadana village, about 8 kilometres from the crater, a few remaining residents said mudflows of volcanic debris and water had passed through the area for a couple of days before solidifying.

Some stranded tourists managed to get off the island before the airport reopened, but they faced an arduous journey involving crowded roads, buses, ferries and sometimes overnight waits in yet another airport in Surabaya on the island of Java.

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