The imminent eruption status of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano has caused thousands to evacuate an exclusion zone with many more more expected to follow.
Indonesia’s Mitigation Disaster Agency said some 100,000 need to leave a danger zone that was widened on Monday morning local time to a 10 km radius around the volcano.
Authorities have raised the state of alert to level four, its highest, in an increasingly urgent situation that started with ash spewing from Mount Agung last Tuesday.
There is heightened seismic activity at the volcano and observers are saying Agung is shifting into a magmatic stage, alarming authorities.
“We really ask people in the danger zone to evacuate immediately because there’s a potential for a bigger eruption,” said spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho on behalf of the disaster agency.
He explained that some 60,000 still need to evacuate the danger zone, with the governor saying later on that there is a possibility another 150,000 may have to be evacuated.
The disaster agency has been keeping Balinese informed via Twitter, where statements have warned of mudslides and volcanic debris flows called lahars.
While authorities say the rest of the island is safe, the island’s Ngurah Rai Airport was closed due to ash reaching the runways, leaving thousands of locals and tourists stranded.
However, the popular tourist hotspot of Kuta Beach is some 70 km away from the fiery volcano, and the airport is expected to reopen on Tuesday, say authorities.
The airport said that 445 flights have been cancelled, affecting some 59,000 travellers.
The Australians and British have advised nationals in Bali to prepare for cancelled flight, monitor news and listen to local authorities.
Although it not place a travel alert, Canada noted the situation under its “Natural disasters and climate” tab for Indonesia.
“Follow evacuation orders and be ready to leave quickly upon recommendation from local authorities,” reads the statement from Ottawa, advising citizens to also monitor local media.
China advised citizens to be cautious in their travels to Bali, Indonesia.
New Jersey native Pamela Bay, who is on vacation, said that locals in Ubud where she is staying aren’t too concerned.
“They’re moving on like it’s a normal day,” she wrote to the Post, explaining that only tourists are concerned as they are missing flights.
Bay said she wasn’t worried but she might miss her flight to Singapore where she is stopping over on her way back to the United States.
She has tried to contact the airline by calling, emailing and even tweeting, but hasn’t heard anything back at this time.
More details to follow. Image 1 of Mount Agung from the Mitigation Disaster Agency Twitter.