What was supposed to be a dream vacation for people who recently flew into Bali has turned into a travel nightmare after thousands of people were stranded on the island following a volcanic eruption. According to CNN, more than 24,000 residents living in Bali have been asked to move to safer locations after Mount Agung, a volcanic peak, dormant for nearly 50 years started to erupt earlier this week. As we file this report, Mount Agung continues to spray thousands of tons of ash across the sky in the region, leading to thousands of flight cancellations. Both the airports that serve Bali, the Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Lombok International Airport located on the island of Pulau Lombok have been affected by this closure. At this time, the number of tourists stranded on the Island remains unknown. The Indonesian government is expected to come up with an official count in the next few days.
As the volcanic eruptions continue, local government authorities have started an evacuation process that has so far managed to rescue thousands of people from 224 points around the island. Following the eruptions, Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised its aviation notice from an orange alert to a red alert earlier today. According to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of information and data for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency, Mount Agung erupted three times on Saturday alone and the ash cloud that formed after the eruptions have reached heights of 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles). On Saturday, the first eruption was reported at around 5:30 p.m. local time. The first eruption was followed by several more eruptions that continued into Sunday as well. A medium pressure eruption was also reported late Saturday evening that sent ash 2,000 meters into the air, the agency confirmed.
As of Sunday morning, the plume of volcanic ash reached an altitude of 7,600 meters, confirmed Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Following this, Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Management issued a Level 3 alert, that recommended no public activities within 6 to 7.5 kilometers (3.5 to 4.5 miles) from the peak. This is also seen as an evacuation notice for anyone living in the vicinity of the mountain. The areas affected by ash fall following the eruptions include the villages of North Duda, East Duda, Pempetan, Besakih, Sidemen, Tirta Abang, Sebudi, Bhuana Amerta in Klungkung and some villages in Gianyar.
The last time Mount Agung erupted was back in 1963 in one of the largest and most devastating eruptions in Indonesia’s history.
[Featured Image By Firdia Lisnawati/ AP Images]