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SHAKE AND BLOW
Thousands flee as Bali raises volcano alert to highest level
By Sonny Tumbelaka
Karangasem, Indonesia (AFP) Nov 27, 2017


Indonesia: the world's volcanic hotspot
Jakarta (AFP) Nov 27, 2017 - Indonesia, where more than 40,000 people have been evacuated over fears of an imminent volcanic eruption at Mount Agung on Bali, is the world's most volcanic area.

The Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and islets -- and nearly 130 active volcanoes -- is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent quakes and major volcanic activity.

Here are some of the country's most deadly eruptions:

- Tambora -

In 1815, Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa explodes in one of the most violent eruptions in recorded history. An estimated 12,000 people die, while a resulting famine kills another 80,000.

- Krakatoa -

The island of Krakatoa is practically wiped off the map in 1883 by a volcanic explosion so powerful that it is heard some 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) away.

Around 36,000 people are killed in the eruption and the resulting tsunami. A new volcano emerges in 1928 on the same site.

- Kelud -

Mount Kelud, a Java island volcano, erupts in 1568, killing 10,000 people.

It takes another 5,000 lives in 1919.

In February 2014, 75,000 people are evacuated due to a forecast Kelud eruption.

- Merapi -

In 1930 an eruption in Java of Mount Merapi -- considered one of the world's most active and dangerous volcanoes -- kills more than 1,300 people.

It erupts again in 2010, forcing 280,000 people to flee and killing more than 300 in what is considered its most powerful eruption since 1930.

Merapi is also one of the most densely populated volcanic sites: 12,000 people live on its slopes and a million people live under its threat.

- Sinabung -

In 2014, 16 people are killed after an eruption of Mount Sinabung on the western island of Sumatra.

Another eruption in 2016 kills seven.

- Agung -

In 1963, several successive eruptions of Mount Agung, a spiritual centre on the island of Bali, leave nearly 1,600 dead.

A rumbling volcano on the resort island of Bali could erupt at any moment, authorities warned Monday as they raised alert levels to maximum, accelerated a mass evacuation and closed the main airport, leaving tourists stranded.

Massive columns of thick grey smoke that have been belching from Mount Agung since last week hae now begun shooting more than three kilometres (two miles) into the sky, forcing flights to be grounded.

Some 40,000 frightened people have fled their homes around the volcano but as many as 100,000 will likely be forced to leave, disaster agency officials said after raising the alert to its highest level.

The exclusion zone around Agung, which is 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the beachside tourist hub of Kuta, has also been widened to 10 kilometres.

"Continuous ash puffs are sometimes accompanied by explosive eruptions and a weak booming sound," the National Board for Disaster Management said.

"The rays of fire are increasingly observed at night. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent."

Agung rumbled back to life in September, forcing the evacuation of 140,000 people living nearby. Its activity decreased in late October and many returned to their homes.

However, on Saturday the mountain sent smoke up into the air for the second time in a week in what volcanologists call a phreatic eruption -- caused by the heating and expansion of groundwater.

Then on Monday so-called cold lava flows appeared -- similar to mud flows and often a prelude to the blazing orange lava seen in many volcanic eruptions.

"I'm very concerned because I left my house behind and I'm also worried about family," said 36-year-old farmer Putu Suyasa, who fled with some of his relatives from a village eight kilometres away from the volcano.

"The mountain is spewing thicker smoke than before."

- 'We have to cooperate' -

Mt. Agung last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,600 people in one of the deadliest eruptions in a country that has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

The airport in Bali's capital Denpasar, a top holiday destination that attracts millions of foreign tourists every year, has been closed, a move expected to affect tens of thousands of passengers.

"I have to make sure that the runway has no ash," said Bali airport's general manager Yanus Suorayogi.

While there was dismay from some tourists who were unable to return to their homes and jobs, others took events in their stride.

"What can I say? We have to cooperate because this is a natural disaster," said Indian visitor Krisna Mustafa.

Many were told that even in the best scenario it would be several days before they could leave.

"My 7:00 am flight this morning got cancelled, just when we were about to board," said 23-year-old Indonesian tourist Merry Handayani Tumanggor.

"Now we have to stay in Bali again -- the earliest we can go is on Friday, they say."

The airport on nearby Lombok island -- also a popular tourist destination east of Bali -- closed on Sunday as ash from Mount Agung headed in that direction, but reopened early Monday.

The Australian government put out a travel advisory on Sunday instructing travellers to exercise a high degree of caution.

"Volcanic activity may escalate with little or no notice," it said."Past eruptions of Mount Agung have shown this volcano's potential to cause significant impacts... including the potential for widespread ash fall outside the declared danger area."

- Prayers -

Dozens of Balinese Hindus took part in ceremonies near the volcano on Sunday, offering prayers in the hope of preventing an eruption.

Officials have said the activity could be a magmatic eruption -- one which involves the decompression of gas and results in the spewing of ash -- and advised people near the mountain to wear masks.

Indonesia is the world's most active volcanic region. The archipelago nation with over 17,000 islands lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

Last year, seven were killed after Mt. Sinabung on the western island of Sumatra erupted, while 16 were left dead by a Sinabung eruption in 2014.

SHAKE AND BLOW
Thousands flee over Bali volcano eruption fears
Karangasem, Indonesia (AFP) Nov 22, 2017
Thousands living in the shadow of a rumbling volcano on Indonesia's resort island of Bali fled Wednesday as fears grow that it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years. Mount Agung belched smoke as high as 700 metres (2,300 feet) above its summit late Tuesday afternoon, sparking an exodus from the settlements near the mountain. Nearly 1,600 people died when Mt. Agung last eru ... read more

Related Links
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