A volcanic eruption in Bali in Indonesia has caused authorities to issue air travel warnings and delay or cancel flights at the island’s airport. Evacuation centers were filling as the volcano spewed ash up to 6,100 metres into the air.
There are no reports of deaths and Indonesia’s disaster agency said on Sunday, Nov. 26 that, save for a 7.5 kilometre area around the erupting volcano, “Tourism in Bali is still safe.” Residents in the danger zone have been safely evacuated.
Evacuations have been ongoing for months and some 140,000 people were moved from areas around the mountain. Most moved back to their homes when their area was deemed safe. The last time the volcano erupted, in 1963, officials were not as prepared and 1,000 people were killed.
“The activity of Mount Agung has entered the magmatic eruption phase,” the volcanology and geological disaster agency said in a statement. “It is still spewing ash at the moment but we need to monitor and be cautious over the possibility of a strong, explosive eruption.”
Tremors in Mount Agung started increasing dramatically in September and an offshoot of that was decline in tourists visiting the popular beaches of Bali. Some 5 million annually visit Bali but this year due to the volcano numbers are down; it is estimated that already the loss in tourist revenue is near $110 million.
Volcanic ash can damage plane engines and airlines, such as Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda and Virgin Australia, were cancelling flights in and out of the Bali airport. Officials say they are working to make extended stays in the airport as comfortable as possible.
Bali is the home to 130 active volcano.
Editors note: Early Monday, Bali raised the threat alert for Mount Agung to a stage 4 alert, it’s highest classification. “Continuing plumes of smoke are occasionally accompanied by explosive eruptions and the sound of weak blasts that can be heard up to 12 kilometres from the peak,” the government said in a statement.
“Rays of fire are increasingly visible from night to the following day,” the statement added. “This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent.”