Mt. Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia finally erupted after more than 50 years of inactivity on Tuesday. It last erupted in 1963 and almost 1,600 people died.
About 140,000 people evacuated their homes in recent months as reports warned people of the possible eruption of Mt. Agung. Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the national disaster agency said that the volcano was undergoing phreatic eruptions. This occurs when water under the ground is heated by magma. It is reported that phreatic eruptions occurred when Krakatoa in Indonesia erupted in 1883 leaving 40,000 people dead, according to BBC News.
The volcano spewed an 800-meter-high plume of steam and pulverized rock puffing to the east. Its ash cloud is quite small, yet dangerous to breathe and could be hazardous to aircraft engines. The good thing is it has not yet affected the operations at Ngurah Rai International Airport. However, the officials declare an “orange” aviation alert status. This warns the pilots of the ash clouds that could reach about 3,900 meters closer to the volcano.
The Bali’s police chief Petrus Golose said there was no need to panic anywhere on the island. Likewise, I Dewa Made Mertayasa, the head of the volcano monitoring post at Mt. Agung, said there was no reason yet to broaden the evacuation zone around the volcano that extended for between six to 7.5 kilometers from the crater.
He further said that the dangers are for those people living within a six km to 7.5 km radius from the crater. He added that evacuation zone should remain clear because the ash clouds are heading in that direction.
Likewise, Mertayasa warns that people should be on alert as the volcano has been releasing ash cloud. Although it was small in size and non-pyroclastic, it could still affect the people surrounding Mt. Agung. The status now of the volcano has been lowered to the second-highest warning level after it was at the highest level in the past several weeks, according to ABC.
Meanwhile, Dr. Janine Krippner, a U.S. based volcanologist who follows the rumblings of Mt. Agung, said that people said that it was likely to be small, yet might be larger afterward. She further said that phreatic eruption is one in which no magma is involved. She added that there was a steam plume at the top of the volcano and this steam could be trapped and pressurized, which in turn could cause an explosion. Another risk to human life after the eruption is when the rain sends “lahars,” which are mud and rocks coming from the mountain.
[Featured Image by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images]