A large eruption of Bali’s restless Mount Agung volcano could be imminent, Indonesian officials have said as they called for 100,000 people to leave the area.
So far, 40,000 people have been moved away from the volcano and tens of thousands of travelers have been stranded due to airport closures.
Mount Agung has been spewing volcanic ash with increasing intensity since last Tuesday. After confirmation that the volcano was shifting into the magmatic phase, authorities raised the warning level to the maximum of 4 on Monday morning.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) has strongly urged people to immediately leave the designated exclusion zone, which has been extended to an 8-10km radius of the volcano.
“We ask people in the danger zone to evacuate immediately because there’s a potential for a bigger eruption,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency.
He said up to 40,000 people had been evacuated from the area and a further 60,000 also needed to move. The governor of Bali said later that 150,000 could be called on to leave.
“Not all residents have evacuated yet. There are those [who have not left] because their farm animals haven’t been evacuated yet. There are those who feel they are safe,” Sutopo said.
He said security personnel were trying to persuade people to leave voluntarily but that some could be evacuated by force.