Published: Sun, October 01, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Thousands near Bali volcano evacuate

Thousands near Bali volcano evacuate

The observation post for Mount Agung witnessed the volcano emitting a small plume most likely of water vapor after daybreak Friday.

'Back then we weren't evacuated until it got really unsafe.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said Mount Agung was highly active on Thursday, recording 125 volcanic earthquakes between 12am (1700 GMT) and 6am.

With a volcanic eruption nearly certain (the volcano alert was rapidly raised to the maximum level last weekend), Indonesian officials have urged visitors and villagers to flee the 7.5-mile exclusion zone. (Reuters) Authorities have established 15 emergency sites, but the large-scale evacuation was straining supplies, said Shadrack Welegtabit, director of the National Disaster Management Office. "I'm confused and don't know what to do".

There are more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, made up of thousands of islands on the "Ring of Fire" of fault lines and volcanoes in the Pacific.

Bali's primary visitor hubs are in the island's south, about 70km from Mount Agung.

Bali is famous for its beaches and temples and saw almost five million visitors previous year, mainly from China, Australia, and Japan.

The airport in Bali's capital Denpasar has not been affected, but several countries including Australia and Singapore have issued advisories warning travellers to exercise caution.

"An eruption of Mount Agung could impact air travel in the region. We urge tourists to continue visiting", the letter said.

On Wednesday, a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aerial survey found "huge columns of smoke, ash and volcanic rocks billowing from the crater of an erupting volcano" on the island, according to a press release from the agency.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says Tuesday that an increasing frequency of tremors from the mountain indicates that magma is continuing to move toward the surface and an eruption is possible.

Ngurah Rai International Airport remains open but is on alert in case of ash disruption, and there are plans to bus people to other airports, if needed.

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