35,000 evacuated as fears increase over Bali volcano eruption
Mount Agung’s alert status was raised to the highest level on Friday following increase in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.world Updated: Sep 24, 2017 17:35 IST
More than 35,000 people have fled a menacing volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will erupt for the first time in more than half a century as increasing tremors rattle the region.
The numbers on Sunday from disaster officials are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise, they say. It includes people who left voluntarily as well as those ordered to evacuate from a 9-12km zone around Mount Agung.
Authorities raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level Friday following a “tremendous increase” in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised the welcoming response of local communities on Bali to the flood of evacuees.
Thousands are living in temporary shelters, sport centres, village halls and with relatives or friends.
Truck driver Wayan Suparta said he and his family left their village 5km from the mountain several days ago, bringing just clothes and blankets to a temporary camp in Rendang. The 35-year-old said he sold the family’s cow because they don’t know when they’ll be able to return.
Officials have said there is no current danger to people in other parts of Bali, a popular tourist island famous for its surfing, beaches and elegant Hindu culture.
In 1963, the 3,031-metre Agung hurled ash as high as 20km, according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava travelled 7.5km and ash reached Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, about 1,000km away.
The mountain, 72km to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
The country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.