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Four Islanders among group of Britons stranded in Bali

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AT least four Islanders are among a group of Britons currently stranded on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Busy scenes at Bali Airport as travellers try to source rescue flights (27638479)

Claudia-Rose Williams and Ross Pringle have seen their four-month sabbatical to go travelling in Asia become a nightmare as they seek a return passage to Jersey.

After setting off in mid-January, the couple were able to enjoy the opening stages of their trip, but in recent weeks coronavirus has caused rapidly mounting problems.

Miss Williams (23) and her 26-year-old boyfriend were set to travel from Cambodia to Vietnam earlier this month, but after encountering visa difficulties they changed course and headed to Bali, arriving on 13 March.

‘By all accounts Bali was fine, but things just blew up really quickly almost as soon as we got here,’ said Miss Williams.

In seeking to arrange flights back to Europe at the earliest possible date, the couple secured seats for 28 March, prior to the 30 March date which their airline, Emirates, initially stated would be the cut-off for suspending flights.

But Emirates then brought the suspension date forward to 25 March, and the couple, who said they had also met two family friends from Jersey in Bali this week, have been desperately seeking alternative options.

‘We went to bed on Sunday in a really positive mood because we thought we’d be on our way home at the end of the week, but then started getting calls overnight and everything changed,’ Miss Williams said.

After eventually reaching UK consular officials by phone on Monday, the couple received no definite news and then tried to make progress by going to Bali Airport.

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‘We didn’t get any answers, except at one point when someone asked if we’d be stuck here for three months, and the man from Emirates just said “yes”,’ said Miss Williams.

The couple have helped organise the group of Britons, estimated to number more than 150, by taking details of those who were at the airport and forming a WhatsApp group in order to share information – they hope to receive positive news in the coming days, and have also sought advice from Jersey’s Government.

Miss Williams said yesterday that a Jersey official had been in touch, but had not been able to offer any specific advice other than to explore other flight options and register with the British Embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

‘The problem is that flights are being cancelled so close to departure, and also we don’t want to fly to Jakarta and then get stuck as the virus is much worse there than Bali,’ she said. ‘And the prices of flights are another problem – they are more than £3,000.’

A spokeswoman for the Government of Jersey said the External Relations Department was working with the UK Foreign Office to ensure that consular staff in London, and in overseas diplomatic missions, were aware of cases of Jersey residents requiring assistance.

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