In the Indonesian island of Bali, tourists stranded by the erupting volcano Mount Agung are finally getting out. The airport reopened for 16-hours when winds cleared the way for planes. Chinese airlines have brought more than a thousand tourists home.
CGTN’s Yang Chengxi has more.
Mount Agung has been blowing ash into the atmosphere for days, forcing the closure of the Ngurah Rai International Airport on the resort island on Monday. At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, authorities reopened the airport for a 16-hour window. China Eastern Airlines immediately sent four planes to the facility on Wednesday.
“Because of the volcanic eruption, we made extensive preparations for different scenarios as we flew there,” Yao Yiyang, an air captain from China Eastern Airlines said.
Their mission was to bring back the Chinese tourists stranded there. Two planes took off from Shanghai, and another two from Beijing. On Thursday morning, the aircrafts returned to China with over a thousand people.
“There are 294 passengers on this plane, and we have used up all our space,” Cai Lingyan, a flight attendant said.
Tourist who were stranded the longest got to board the planes first. Senior citizens and children were also prioritized.
Bali is a popular resort. Over a million Chinese tourists visited the island in January to August of 2017. Most of the evacuees said they didn’t feel the effects of the volcano. Many were eager to come back.
“Some members of our tour group couldn’t wait and they left by car,” another tourist says. “Now the hotels in Bali are much emptier than before and there aren’t many people on the beaches.”
Most tourists said they are happy that the evacuation was handled quickly.
“The embassy and the airlines sorted out everything,” a Chinese tourist said. “What is there to fear when we have our country at our back?”
On Thursday, China Eastern Airlines sent another plane to Bali to pick up more than 180 remaining Chinese tourists who will arrive at Shanghai early Friday morning.