(CNN) — The popular Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its international airport Friday after Mount Agung volcano began spewing volcanic ash and vapor higher than two kilometers (6,500 feet) into the air.

Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai International Airport announced that it would be closed till 7 p.m., at which time officials would review the situation.

The volcanic activity began on Thursday, prompting several airlines to delay or cancel their flights to Bali prior to the Friday airport closure.

Over 300 flights have been canceled, according to airport authorities, impacting the travel plans of thousands of people.

In a statement, Australian airline Qantas acknowledged the inconvenience to passengers but said safety is its top priority.

“Denpasar Airport is currently closed and we are monitoring the advice from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center and our team of senior pilots and meteorologists will make an assessment when flights can be resumed,” said the statement. “While these disruptions are frustrating, we always put safety first.”

The Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation has issued an orange level warning, signaling heightened unrest with the increased likelihood of eruption.

Officials predict the ash cloud will move west and southwest of the Island, adding that there may be an increase in earthquake tremors.

World’s most active volcanic region

Indonesia is the world’s most active volcanic region and lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

Flights were canceled for 24 hours and stranded 59,000 domestic and international passengers. Amidst the chaos, Bali’s tourism plunged.

Volcanic activity had only subsided by February 2018, and the Bali Tourism office announced that the volcano alert had been downgraded from level four to level three.

However, there still remains a 4-kilometer no-go zone around Mount Agung’s peak.



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