Bali airport closed as Agung

volcano gushes column of ash

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — The Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its international airport Friday, stranding thousands of travelers, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2,500-meter (8,200-feet) column of ash and smoke.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the airport closure began early Friday. It said nearly 450 flights were canceled, affecting 75,000 people.

The regional volcanic ash advisory center in Darwin, Australia, said winds could carry the ash southwest toward Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island. Volcanic ash is a potentially deadly threat to aircraft that can cause engines to “flame out.”

The volcano began gushing smoke Thursday. Its alert level has not been raised and an exclusion zone around the crater remains at 4 kilometers.

Agung, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Australia awards UK’s BAE

$26 billion navy frigate contract

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — British defense company BAE Systems has won a 35 billion Australian dollar ($26 billion) contract to build Australia’s fleet of new navy frigates, the government said on Friday.

The company’s Type 26 Global Combat Ship will be the design for the frigate program to replace the aging Anzac-class frigates.

The new ships will be built by the Australian government-owned company ASC Shipbuilding in the southern city of Adelaide and will be known as the Hunter class, with the navy to receive nine advanced guided-missile frigates beginning in the late 2020s.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the program would create 5,000 direct jobs nationally, and 10,000 indirectly through a national supply chain.