50,000 evacuate as Bali volcano swells

“The chances of an eruption are very high, but we cannot be sure when it will erupt.”

Nearly 50,000 people have fled the Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing an imminent eruption as dozens of tremors rattle the surrounding region, officials said Monday.

Waskita Sutadewa, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency in Bali, said people have scattered to all corners of the island and some have crossed to the neighbouring island of Lombok.

Indonesian authorities raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level on Friday following a dramatic increase in seismic activity. It last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Thousands of evacuees are living in temporary shelters, sports centres, village halls and with relatives or friends. Some return to the danger zone, which extends up to 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from the crater, during the day to tend to livestock.

Related: The search for survivors continues in Mexico

Officials have said there’s no immediate threat to tourists, but some are already cutting short their stays in Bali. A significant eruption would force the closure of Bali’s international airport, stranding thousands.

“It’s obviously an awful thing. We want to get out of here just to be safe,” said an Australian woman at Bali’s airport who identified herself as Miriam.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hundreds of thousands of face masks will be distributed in Bali as part of government humanitarian assistance that includes thousands of mattresses and blankets.

“The chances of an eruption are very high, but we cannot be sure when it will erupt,” he said at a news conference in the capital, Jakarta.

He said not everyone had left the danger zone because they didn’t want to leave livestock, were underestimating the risk or because of religious reasons.

“Officers continue to sweep the area and are appealing for people to evacuate,” he said.

In 1963, the 3,031-meter (9,944-foot) Agung hurled ash as high as 20 kilometres (12 miles), according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava travelled 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) and ash reached Jakarta, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) away.

The mountain, 72 kilometres (45 miles) to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

The country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

___

Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this report.

Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press

 

Just Posted

Motorist dies near Ponoka after loose tire collides with vehicle

Ponoka RCMP seek assistance in locating vehicle belonging to the tire

Third annual event honours youth friendly business

Three Sylvan Lake businesses were recognized Dec. 11 for role in supporting youth

Toque Toss brings in warm clothing for communities

Bantam AA Tigers asked attendees at their Dec. 10 game to toss hats, mitts, socks and more on the ice

Senior girls win gold at home tournament

The H.J. Cody Lakers hosted a basketball tournament Dec. 8-9

Christmas classics and more at the House of Music Christmas Recital

The Christmas recital was held at the Alliance Church on Dec. 9

WATCH: Red Deer’s Outreach Centre begins construction with a smash

Dragon Fly Centre, a location dedicated to healing for children and youth

WestJet Christmas video turns children’s wishes into reality

This year’s annual video took a new spin on the 12 days of Christmas

Firefighters protect seaside California towns as blaze rages

A flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday

Putin declares victory on visit to air base in Syria

Declaring a victory in Syria, Putin on Monday visited a Russian military air base in the country and announced a partial pullout of Russian forces from the Mideast nation.

Pipe bomb explodes in NYC subway

Pipe bomb strapped to man explodes in NYC subway, injuring 4

Toronto FC to hold victory parade following MLS Cup championship

Toronto FC to hold downtown victory parade following MLS Cup championship

Canada’s only commercial spaceport hopes to launch 12 rockets per year

Nova Scotia’s rocket launch site hopes to eventually host 12 launches per year

‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

The nominees were announced from Beverly Hills after still-burning fires ravaged Southern California for the past week.

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

Most Read