Bali volcano may erupt for the first time in over 50 years

Posted at 8:35 AM, Sep 25, 2017

Thousands of people on the Indonesian island of Bali have been evacuated amid fears volcano Mount Agung could erupt for the first time in over 50 years.

A 12 kilometer (7.5 mile) exclusion zone has been set up around the volcano, on the northeastern side of Bali. More than 42,000 people have been evacuated from the area so far, according to the Indonesian Red Cross (IRC).

Warning banners reading “You’re entering active volcanic hazard zone” have been erected at the perimeter of the evacuation zone and hundreds of volunteers have been deployed, IRC said.

Seismic activity around the mountain is increasing “and (it) has the potential to erupt,” Indonesia’s national volcanology center said in a statement. The volcano’s danger status was raised to its highest level on Friday.

Tourism disruptions

Bali is a popular tourist destination, particularly for Australians. The country’s consulate to the island has warned citizens to avoid outdoor activities in the region of the volcano and to take precautions over air travel.

Mount Agung is around 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Bali’s main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak.

Aircraft have been advised to avoid the area, but as of Monday morning no flights had been canceled, a spokesman for Bali Airport told CNN.

Nine airports around the region have begun preparations to redirect flights and handle displaced passengers, the Jakarta Post reported Monday.

Bali’s tourism board said ferries and other transport links to nearby islands were so far unaffected, but it urged people “to start preparing sufficient stock of face masks in the case of an ashfall.”

Almost 2,000 people were killed when the volcano erupted in March 1963, which also destroyed multiple villages around the mountain.