A volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali looks to be just hours away from erupting. Mount Agung began shaking Monday after unprecedented levels of seismic activity.
The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) has raised its volcano alert level to 4, meaning the volcano could erupt at any time.
More than 75,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding area in eastern Bali after hundreds of volcanic earthquakes took place in just one day. However, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, even residents outside the so-called “volcano exclusion zone” are being encouraged to flee to one of the island’s many hundred evacuation centers. The high danger zone constitutes a 7.5-mile radius around the volcano, based on the impact of its most previous eruption which killed about 1,100 people in 1963.
The area close to the volcano began rumbling a few weeks ago. Seismologists have detected over 1,000 tremors around Mount Agung since the beginning of this week, with a 3-mile depth, magnitude 4.2 earthquake shaking the entire island Wednesday morning. Devy Kamil Syahbana, a scientist from the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation told the London Guardian, “We have never recorded such high energy or seismicity from Mount Agung.”
He also said that the island suffered 844 earthquakes on Monday and around 300-400 on Tuesday. “We need to pay attention because these kinds of earthquakes indicate the movement of magma and increase the probability of an eruption.” Even with accurate seismic technology, it is impossible to predict the exact time Mount Agung might erupt.
The local government has installed emergency sirens at various points around the volcano exclusion zone, but is still struggling to evacuate some residents who are refusing to abandon their homes.
— Dr Janine Krippner (@janinekrippner) September 27, 2017
The mountain is around 43 miles north of Bali’s most popular tourist sites of Kuta and Seminyak. Around five million people traveled to its popular island resorts last year.
The Indonesian government is now imposing flight restrictions, diverting certain flights and granting free visa extensions. Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said that the island has made sufficient preparations in case of disruption to air travel. If a volcanic ash cloud forces Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport to close, airplanes will likely be diverted to Jakarta, Makassar and other Indonesia cities.
Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana visited two of the evacuation centers yesterday. Delivery trucks containing 12 tons of rice, 18,000 mattresses and 520,000 gas masks arrived shortly after.