Mount Agung is spewing dark gray ash in clouds that are hurling out of its volcanic center as the lava is welling up in the crater. This may sound like the opening of a doomsday movie, but it is happening in real-life on a tropical island that’s a getaway destination for many, Bali.
Bali’s volcano warning has been posted to the top level of 4 by authorities in Indonesia and all the vacationers can do on the island of Bali is to watch, wait, and for sure… worry. Residents of the island near the volcano have been told to immediately evacuate their homes as the volcano is an “imminent risk of a larger eruption.”
Signs that once pointed to the island’s many scenic tourist destinations are not what people have their eyes on today. New signs warning that “You’re entering active volcanic hazard zone” have their attention. With the major international airport closed for the second day, getting off the island of Bali is not an easy feat and impossible for some.
Without access to air travel, getting off Bali entails traveling by land and boat for hours to get to another island with an airport that is open. The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Department in Indonesia warns of an eruption similar to what was experienced back in 1963. As you can see in the tweeted picture below, it is a nightmare for tourists.
NBC News talked to some of the stranded travelers from the U.S. and while they don’t see their way out anytime soon, they seem to be making the best of it. One actor from Hollywood who was in Bali celebrating his birthday told NBC that he is just trying “not to freak out.” Du Chesne said last time this happened people were stuck on the island for weeks, he was talking about the eruption in the 1960s. He said the airports have more people than he’s ever seen at an airport and some people were crying.
According to The Independent, the experts report that Mount Agung could remain on the brink of a major eruption for weeks. With the airports closed, flights were canceled. There were 440 flights that were to carry 60,000 passengers each day that have been canceled two days in a row. That’s a lot of people missing flights, leaving tens of thousands stranded without a flight home, according to King 5 News.
Back then the volcano spewed fist-size rocks up to five miles away and the poisonous gas drifted a distance of 6 miles within three minutes. Richard Arculus, who is a volcano expert at Australian National University had this to say.
“If it got much worse, it would be really hard to think of. You’ve got a huge population center, nearly a million people in Denpasar and surroundings, and it’s very difficult to envision moving those people further away.”
The stranded travelers are dealing with this volcano literally breathing down their back in different ways. Some have been “relying heavily on a nearby bar” trying to make the most of the situation, reports The Independent. Others, who spend their time trying to get a flight or book passage to another island by land and then boat are finding there’s not much help from the government, as Nitin Sheth, who is a tourist from India stranded in Bali. He told Reuters about the plight of the people stranded in the airport.
“They have to go to some other airport and they are trying to do that, but the government or authorities here are not helping.”