Mount Agung volcano set to erupt in Bali
Tourists have been left stranded after the airport was forced to close
Indonesian authorities have raised the state of alert in Bali to its highest level, as fears increase of a major eruption of Mount Agung.
The volcano “erupted on Saturday evening and three times early Sunday, lighting its cone with an orange glow and sending ash 4,000 metres into the atmosphere,” The Guardian reports.
Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said “continuing plumes of smoke are occasionally accompanied by explosive eruptions and the sound of weak blasts”.
Authorities have ordered the evacuation of a widened exclusion zone stretching 10km (seven miles) from Mount Agung, and have distributed masks for residents as ash continues to fall. About 100,000 people must be evacuated from the area around the volcano but only 40,000 have been so far, Sky News reports.
The volcano first began sending thick smoke into the sky last week, and vulcanologists have confirmed that molten rock has been detected near the mountain’s surface.
Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport has been closed until at least Tuesday morning, stranding many tourists in the island’s two major resort areas of Kuta and Seminyak, about 45 miles from the volcano. In total, 445 flights carrying around 59,000 people have been cancelled.
“The last time Mount Agung erupted, in 1963, more than 1,000 people died,” the BBC reports.
Tremors began to increase around the volcano in September, and fears of an eruption have led many tourists to stay away.