Sat, Dec 02, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Tourists stranded in Bali lampooned for complaints

AP, KARANGASEM, Indonesia

The setting sun lights up clouds of ash ejected from Mount Agung on Indonesia’s Bali on Thursday.

Photo: AP

Australian tourists who complained about being stranded on tropical Bali when volcanic ash closed its airport have been roasted online as being out of touch with the hardships faced by Indonesians forced to flee their homes.

Bali’s airport reopened on Wednesday after being closed for two-and-a-half days and thousands of tourists are now leaving the island famous for its lush green interior, surf beaches and relaxed vibe.

About 40,000 residents from Mount Agung’s danger zone are staying in shelters such as sport halls, temples and tent camps. Ash could drift back and force the airport to close again.

A producer for an Australian TV network temporarily locked her Twitter account after being assailed for an article in which she complained of having to pay for a taxi to the airport after not getting through to airlines by telephone.

“People are being forced to measure risk, cost and desperation to make it home to their families on Christmas,” producer Mary Jordan said.

The article on the TV network’s Web site was later updated to show Jordan had managed to get a flight out on Thursday evening, but not before it was sarcastically dissected by an online travel guide.

One man was lampooned for telling Australian TV that the government should have sent boats to rescue Australians and complaining that he spent three “cold, wet” nights at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.

“It’s been hell,” the man, identified as Phil Wickham by Australian media, said on arrival at Perth in Western Australia.

Others were more stoic, commenting that it was not too bad and the beer had not run out.

Bali attracts about 5 million visitors per year, making tourism vital to the livelihoods of many on the island. It is a top destination for Australians.

Airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim said that about 17,000 people on Thursday flew out of Bali on domestic and international flights.

The alert level for Mount Agung, which has been gushing huge columns of black ash since Saturday last week and glowing red at night, remains at its highest. Explosions within the crater can be heard kilometers away and tremors occasionally shake the surrounding region.

Agung’s last major eruption, in 1963, killed about 1,100 people.

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