50000 evacuate as Bali volcano swells

Sep 27, 2017, 00:41
50000 evacuate as Bali volcano swells

Videos circulating on social media that purport to show the mountain already violently erupting are hoaxes; they show previous eruptions from other volcanoes in Indonesia.

The 3,031-metre Mount Agung last erupted for nearly a year between 1963 and 1964, killing about 1,200 people.

Agung is in the north of the island about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the tourist hotspot of Kuta.

The Karangasem regency, located closest to Mount Agung, is housing the largest number of evacuees at just over 21,000 people. According to the monitoring agency BPVMG, hundreds of shallow earthquakes are detected each day at the volcano, suggesting that a new batch of magma has moved to within a few kilometers beneath the summit.

President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana Jokowi are scheduled on Tuesday (9/26/2017) to visit Mount Agung's evacuees in Bali Province and will hand over aids worth more than IDR7.1 billion.

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"Business is getting low since Mount Agung's alert status was raised to the highest level", said Ketut Purnawata, manager of Dasawana Resort, which is in the same district as the volcano, normally popular with tourists and hikers.

Authorities have been watching the volcano closely, and have so far urged tens of thousands of residents to flee the area with warnings of an "imminent" eruption.

One of the difficulties in predicting the likelihood and timing of an eruption on Agung is that monitoring of the volcano only began after the 1963 eruption.

Operators have cancelled trekking tours on the mountain but officials have otherwise been at pains to assure tourists the island is safe. Some 1,100 people were killed.

"But for Agung we have no instrumental documentation", said Syahbana.

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Local authorities reassured tourists that it was not unsafe to visit the island, and Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport continued to operate normally.

It is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

Several countries, including Australia, Singapore and the United States, issued travel advisories alerting holidaymakers to the risk, Reuters reported.

As the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program reminds us, "A VEI 5 eruption during 1963-64 produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and resulted in more than 1,100 deaths".

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