Holiday island raises volcano alert to highest level
With Mount Agung’s clouds of ash growing larger, Bali’s airport has closed, stranding thousands of tourists on the popular Indonesian island. Now there are fears of an imminent major eruption.
Authorities have raised the volcano alert to its highest level as dark smoke and ash rise up to 3,400 metres above the mountain’s summit. Rock and debris flows, known as lahars, have been seen flowing down the sides of the mountain, the BBC reports.
The National Board for Disaster Management says there is “the possibility and imminent risk of disaster”, as its “continuous ash puffs” are occasionally accompanied by “explosive eruptions” and “weak booms” that can be heard 12 kilometres away.
“The rays of fire are increasingly observed at night. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent,” it said.
The Indonesian authorities are believed to be “extremely well prepared”, as signs of an eruption have been continuing for some time.
The main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak are about 70 kilometres away from the volcano, far beyond the exclusion zone. But the ash, which could affect aircraft engines, has prompted the closure of the airport and 445 flights have so far been cancelled, grounding 59,000 travellers. The airport on the neighbouring island of Lombok also closed briefly but reopened on Monday morning.