Authorities decided to close Ngurah Rai International Airport for four hours until 11.30 pm (1530 GMT) so they could assess the risk posed by a large ash cloud drifting from Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the nearby island of Lombok.

Airport manager Trikora Harjo said the situation would be re-evaluated as the evening went on but unless conditions improved the airport could remain shut.

"If there's any chance available (to reopen the airport) I will, but if not, I will continue to keep it closed," he said, adding he did not yet know how many flights would be affected.

Australian airlines Virgin Australia and Jetstar had already canceled all flights yesterday, deeming conditions unsafe for flying, with Virgin also scrapping its roster for tomorrow.

Jetstar advised passengers not to travel to the airport for flights to and from Bali until further notice, while AirAsia said several flights would be 'adjusted' due to the temporary closure.

Ash from a different volcano stranded thousands of passengers on Bali for days during the peak holiday season in July.

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