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'Tourism unaffected' as 134000 flee Bali volcano threat

29 September 2017, 12:41 | Gina Pena

Mount Sinabung seen from Gundaling Hill on Sept. 13 2010

Mount Sinabung seen from Gundaling Hill on Sept. 13 2010

More than 120,000 people have fled their homes because of fears a volcano will erupt soon.

Indonesian authorities raised the alert level for Mt. Agung in Bali to level 4, the highest alert level classification, signifying the possibility of volcanic eruption. An exclusion zone around the mountain extends as far as 12km from the crater in places but officials say people farther from the volcano are leaving too.

Officials also noted there are around 30,000 cattle within the danger zone around the volcano, and efforts are being made to move the livestock as it is an important source of income for many residents.

The last time Bali's Mount Agung volcano erupted, a stream of molten lava flattened teenage Gusti Nyoman Dauh's home, while cascading ash, rocks and hot gas killed 1,600 of his neighbours. Many of these show high levels of activity but it can be weeks or even months before an actual eruption. "So I chose to get out to save myself with my stuff and my pet", he said, carrying a bird in a cage.

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"The total number of tremors has decreased, but if we compare the strength [of tremors] it is definitely increasing", said Gede Suantika, an official at national vulcanology agency. "Sirens will sound and tell the community the mountain has erupted".

The indonesian authorities stand ready to divert the aircraft to its destination of Bali, the island's largest tourist destination of Indonesia, where a volcano could erupt at any time, indicated this Wednesday the minister of Transport.

Bali is famous for its beaches and temples and saw almost 5 million visitors past year, mainly from China, Australia, and Japan.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nguroho said the chances of an eruption are "quite big", although experts can't predict when with certainty. "I think there are some people that either don't understand, or don't believe, or are just stubborn and don't want to go", said Kenny Peavy, an American expat who fled with his family last Friday.



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