March 21, 2018

Bali: Over 134000 evacuated as 'increasingly active' volcanoes continue to rumble

29 September 2017, 12:44 | Denise Dawson

MAGMABali volcano The volatile volcano could erupt at any moment officials have warned

Mount Agung on Bali Indonesia

The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing over 1,000 people.

The evacuees are scattered in over 500 locations across the island, taking shelter in temporary camps, sports centers and public buildings. Sirens will be sounded if an eruption occurs.

"I would definitely be following the advice to stay outside the exclusion zone", said Heather Handley, an assistant Earth sciences professor at Sydney's Macquarie University. "So I made a decision to get out to save myself with my stuff and my pet", he said, carrying a bird in a cage.

The airport in Bali's capital Denpasar, through which millions of foreign tourists pass every year, has not been affected, but several countries including Australia and Singapore have issued a travel advisory. "We urge tourists to continue visiting", the letter said.

"Bali tourism is safe".

Authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level, prompting hundreds of thousands living near the volcano to evacuate.

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The transportation minister said on Wednesday that Bali-bound flights could be diverted to 10 airports across the country in case of an eruption.

Government officials estimate there are at least 30,000 cows within a 12-km danger zone, efforts to relocate them are ongoing as these animals are important to the residents. Back then, there was no evacuation plan, people just "ran to save themselves", he said.

Indonesia has almost 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.

"The principle concerns here are that the volcano can eject volcanic rocks to distances of many kilometers from the crater, and that the volcano could erupt ash and/or emit sulfur dioxide", said Andrews, from the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.

Elsewhere, the threat of a separate volcanic eruption on the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu prompted authorities on Thursday to order the compulsory evacuation of the entire island of Ambae, home to 11,000 people.

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