Thousands Evacuated As Bali On High Alert For Volcanic Eruption

As of this morning, an estimated 35,000 people have fled a looming volcanic eruption on the island of Bali in Indonesia after some 300 tremors. Those tremors, registered between midnight and 6 a.m. Sunday, have increased in both frequency and intensity.

The number of evacuees includes people who left voluntarily as well as those ordered to evacuate.

The Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency has gone out of its way to help out, setting up temporary shelters for evacuees and providing approximately 14 tons of aid including food, water, tents, blankets and mattresses.

The eruption alert was raised to the highest level on Friday following an increase in seismic activity. For context, from midnight to noon on Friday, a total of 198 tremors were recorded compared with the 300 that took place in the six-hour period overnight Sunday.

The agency said the number of people fleeing their homes surrounding the volcano had tripled since Friday as concern continued to grow that Mount Agung could erupt at any moment.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and we expect the number of evacuees to continue to rise,” the agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

The international airport in Bali’s capital, Denpasar, was anticipating the prospect of closure but, as of today, no flight schedules have been affected. The airport has even prepared buses and trains to divert passengers to alternative hubs in neighboring provinces, should the volcano go off.

There is no immediate threat to residents outside the 12km radius of the safety cordon around Mount Agung, but if it were to erupt, it would be the volcano’s first eruption in half a century.

Growing fear is that Mount Agung, the highest point on the island of Bali, in Indonesia, may erupt any minute now [Image by Firdia Lisnawati /AP Images]

The volcano, which has been rumbling for over a month, is the highest point in Bali and located about 75 km from the tourist hub of Kuta. The last time this Volcano erupted was in 1963, and that event killed 1,100 people. During that last eruption half a century ago, the ash cloud reached an altitude of 20km (12 miles) and the lava flow extended nearly five miles from the volcano.

Governor Mangku Pastika said the natural disaster declaration meant regencies across the island would have to help take care of evacuees. He said another 50,000 people could end up in shelters in if the volcano erupts.

Villagers who were evacuated from their homes near Mount Agung get helped off a truck upon arrival at a temporary shelter in Klungkung, Bali, Indonesia [Image by Firdia Lisnawati/AP Images]

Many of the makeshift evacuation centers are overcrowded as it is.

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. Mount Agung, the largest is just one of over 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

[Featured Image by Firdia Lisnawati/AP Images]

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