Thousands flee as Bali braces for volcanic eruption

Posted September 27, 2017

In 1963, the last time Agung blew its top, some 1,100 people died.

The increasing frequency of deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes, as well as local tectonic tremors, is an indication that magma continues to move toward the surface.

On Monday, the observation post at Mount Agung recorded 547 volcanic earthquakes, a figure which quadrupled from 119 quakes registered on September 22, which, together with other parameters, indicated that magma levels were likely to be ascending, reports Efe news.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is scheduled to deliver humanitarian aid to Mount Agung evacuees during his visit to Bali on Tuesday.

Hoaxes have proliferated online, with videos of previous eruptions in Indonesia circulated as current events at Mount Agung.

Karangasem regency, where Mount Agung is located, is housing the largest number of evacuees, with 21,280 people spread across 84 shelters.

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The alert status of Agung was raised to the highest level on Friday following a dramatic increase in seismic activity.

More than 75,000 people have now been evacuated from an exclusion zone around the volcano, which is around 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Bali's main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak. "There is no volcanologist in the world who could predict precisely when a volcano will erupt", Syahbana said. Detection techniques have improved so we know better how to expect the eruption, and infrastructure was also improved, meaning that more people could evacuate quickly and safely.

At 11am BST EMSC, an independent scientific organisation that provides real-time natural disaster warnings, tweeted: "Strongest quake so far while the volcano may be about to erupt".

Authorities have been watching the volcano closely, and have so far urged tens of thousands of residents to flee the area with warnings of an "imminent" eruption. "Tourists are still going about their activities", she said.

Australians are being advised to check with their airline before flying and to follow all authorities and hotel staff instruction if travelling to Bali.