For the past week, the Mount Agung volcano on the island of Bali in Indonesia has been showing signs of an impending eruption. When a volcano explodes, natural processes typically explain it. Yet, one local resident is warning others that the rumbling under the mountain is something supernatural.
One faithful villager, a priest named Jaya, says Mount Agung is angry with foreign climbers disrespecting the mountain. According to him, the “beast” is specifically annoyed with “bule” (white people) who use the mountainside for sexual escapades.
Sumerti Jero, another religious leader, also firmly believes tourists are to blame for Mount Agung’s recent growls. However, he advises the volcano is mad at menstruating women walking the higher altitudes. Others, he said, urinate while climbing and exploring the wilderness, further infuriating the mystical spirits.
While there is no real way to know if Mount Agung is angry with tourists, residents in the area do know it is time to leave. Many villagers living near the volcano have witnessed animals scattering from the area, a sure warning sign something is wrong.
“The old people advised us the heat from the mountain will make them flee. All kinds of animals – deer, snakes, wild cows, anything,” said Ketut, a local resident, as cited by the Express.
Fearing a volcanic catastrophe, thousands of residents have already fled the area. Local authorities estimate nearly 134,000 people have left since the first issued warning on Friday. Many evacuees have taken shelter in temporary camps and sports centers.
Mount Agung is 45 miles from Kuta, a Bali tourist hotspot. Oddly, as scared villagers scramble to leave, the Bali government is encouraging tourists to visit.
“Bali tourism is safe. Do not spread the misleading news that Bali is not safe because Mount Agung is on the highest alert status. Please, come and visit Bali,” announced A.A. Gede Yuniartha Putra, the island’s tourism chief, per a report from USA Today.
Just in the past few days, seismologists have recorded nearly 1,000 earthquakes, with one on Wednesday measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale. With so many tremors occurring is such a short time, scientists predict a Mount Agung eruption is very likely, but cannot say with certainty when it will happen.
Mount Agung, one of 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, last erupted in 1963. The explosion of ash, gas, and rock killed 1,100 people and decimated the area. The volcano continued to erupt on and off for nearly a year.
[Featured Image by Firdia Lisnawati/AP Images]