More Bali flights canceled on forecast of volcanic ash from Mount Agung

Tourists sit on a floor as wait for their flight at Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar, Bali. Twenty flights were canceled on Friday evening due to concerns over ash. (Reuters)
Updated 02 December 2017
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More Bali flights canceled on forecast of volcanic ash from Mount Agung

DENPASAR, Indonesia: Airlines canceled more flights departing the Indonesian holiday island of Bali on Saturday, citing forecasts of deteriorating flying conditions due to a risk of volcanic ash from the erupting Mount Agung volcano.
A Bali airport spokesman said the airport was still operating normally, but airlines such as Jetstar and Virgin Australia had opted to cancel some flights.
“Bali flying conditions expected to be clear throughout the day, but forecast for tonight has deteriorated so several flights have been canceled,” Australian budget airline Jetstar said on its Twitter account.
The erupting volcano had closed the airport for much of this week, stranding thousands of visitors from Australia, China and other countries, before the winds changed and flights resumed
Twenty flights were canceled on Friday evening due to concerns over ash. Some airlines including Malaysia’s AirAsia have said they would only operate out of Bali during the day, as the ash could impair visibility at night and wind conditions in the area were unpredictable.
Airlines avoid flying through volcanic ash as it can damage aircraft engines, clogging fuel and cooling systems, hampering pilot visibility and even causing engine failure.
There are also concerns over changing weather conditions with a tropical cyclone south of Java island impacting weather and wind in the area, including for Bali, the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics agency said
With some airlines continuing to fly normally on Saturday, there was frustration among passengers.
Australian couple Justine and Greg Hill were on holiday with their two teenage children and had been due to fly out today but their flight later this evening was canceled.
“It’s more an inconvenience than anything. Don’t understand why if other airlines are flying, some others aren’t. Obviously there must be safety protocols but there’s no detailed explanation,” said Greg Hill, 46, who was waiting at the airport.
Several foreign consulates have set up booths in the international departures area to assist stranded passengers.
Subrata Sarkar, India’s vice consul in Bali, told Reuters at the airport’s international departure area that they had helped around 500 passengers so far this week.
“We have advised citizens the volcano may erupt. We never say ‘please don’t come’. But we have issued travel adviseries. If it’s urgent business, then ok, but if it’s only tourism, then plans should be reconsidered,” said Sarkar.


Maldives’ top court dismisses outgoing president’s petition

Updated 38 min 35 sec ago
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Maldives’ top court dismisses outgoing president’s petition

MALE, Maldives: The Maldives’ top court on Sunday dismissed the outgoing president’s petition seeking an annulment of last month’s presidential election result.
The five-member Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the election was conducted within the law. No other details were immediately known.
The Election Commission had declared opposition alliance candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih the winner of the Sept. 23 election against President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Yameen’s party challenged the result, alleging vote rigging, fraud and corruption in the election process.
Four of the five members of the Election Commission fled after the election, citing intimidation by Yameen’s supporters.
President-elect Solih’s spokeswoman, Mariya Didi, said “the case was based on conjecture and conspiracy theory.”
“We are pleased that the court ruled unanimously to uphold the will of the people. There is zero evidence that the election was fixed,” Didi said in a tweet.
President Yameen “should do the honorable thing: accept defeat & ensure a smooth transfer of power,” she said.
The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago nation known for its luxury resorts, became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. Yameen is accused of rolling back many of the democratic gains.
Solih was chosen as the Maldivian Democratic Party’s presidential candidate at a party congress in July after exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed abandoned plans to run because of legal obstacles.
Nasheed has been sentenced to 13 years in prison, making him ineligible to contest the election. The verdict was widely criticized as politically motivated.
The Supreme Court earlier this year ordered Nasheed’s release and retrial, but the government refused to implement the ruling.
Yameen had expected to contest the election virtually unopposed, with all of his potential opponents either in jail or forced into exile. Following the Supreme Court order to release and retry Nasheed, the government arrested the chief justice and another judge. The remaining three Supreme Court justices then reversed the order.
In the Maldives’ first multiparty election in 2008, Nasheed defeated 30-year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Nasheed resigned in 2012 amid public protests over his order to the military to detain a sitting judge. He lost the 2013 election to Gayoom’s half brother, Yameen, who has reversed many of the country’s democratic gains.
Gayoom is now an ally of the pro-Nasheed coalition and was jailed by his half brother.
Yameen’s administration has also jailed his former vice president, two defense ministers, the chief justice and a Supreme Court judge, as well as many other politicians and officials.