Tens of thousands of people on the Indonesian resort island of Bali are huddled in temporary shelters, sports centres and with relatives, fearing Mount Agung will erupt at any time for the first time in more than half a century.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (NDMA) said no one should be within nine kilometres of the crater and within 12 kilometres to the north, northeast, southeast and south-southwest where lava flows, lahars or rapidly moving white-hot ash clouds from an eruption could reach.
Authorities raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level Friday 22nd September following a “tremendous increase” in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1100 people.
Mt Agung, 72 kilometres to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
The international airport in Bali’s capital, Denpasar, was anticipating the prospect of closure but no flight schedules had been affected as of Sunday. Flight disruptions due to drifting ash clouds are not uncommon in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity known as the “Ring of Fire”.