Bali Volcano Eruption since 2017

Bali Volcano Mount Agung Eruption

After months of not hearing about the volcano in Bali, on June 28 2018, Mount Agung erupted again, spitting ash into the hemisphere. The volcano had been active on and off since November 2017. Because of the ash cloud, airlines started to cancel their flights.

Editor's article: IS BALI SAFE if the volcano erupts


If you have a look the map you will see, that Mount Agung is far away from almost all major tourist areas in Bali. Tulamben, Amed, Candi Dasa, and Padang Bali are the nearest and even though they have not been directly affected by the latest volcanic activities since 2017, they were hit the hardest economically.
All other areas, such as Ubud (30+km), and the hotspot areas of Seminyak, Kuta, Canguu, Nusa Dua, Benoa, Pecatu are too far away from the volcano 60+km.
Officials are certain and confident, that anybody outside the evacuation zone ( 8-12km radius) will be safe, even in case of a stronger eruption than what we have seen lately. Of course, nobody can predict what might happen, and their is a chance that Agung could erupt massively, which could impact also the people staying and living further away (volcanic ash and debris). 

Timelaps of Bali Volcano Eruption

November 30th 2017


Evacuation Zones

This pictures shows how scientists anticipate the flow of lava and have therefore marked the evacuation zones accordingly.


What is the impact of the volcano eruption in Bali

Not only in the north and north east of Bali, hotels, restaurants are empty and businesses start to lay off people, also the other areas such as Kuta, Seminyak etc have seen massive waves of cancellations. 
Due to the media and news portals, which in many cases highly exaggerated the situation using words that trigger fear and uncertainty in people, many cancelled their travel plans. 

The tourism industry is the back bone of Bali and a decline does impact almost everyone in Bali directly or indirectly. No guests in the hotels and restaurants, farmers don't sell their goods, tais are emtpy, no tours, no purchases in the shops, the street vendors don't have customers etc, a vicious cycle hast started already. 
In Bali, like in other developing countries in the world, one worker usually supports many family members, who all depend on that person financially. Very few people have savings and can wait until the economy picks up again and the social welfare system is (almost) non-ecistent . Hardship kicks in almost instantly. 

The eruption that happened and is still ongoing does indeed have a destructive impact on the environment. Some rivers coming from Mount Agung are filled with ash and debris; rivers flowing down the hills of Bali's mountains and volcanos are crucial to the fresh water supply in Bali. Plants within a radius of 5km are covered with volcanic ash. The people who live within the evacuation zone and have their homes and small farms their, are facing tremendous challenges and hardship. 

Even though tens of thousands of Balinese have been relocated into 220 shelter camps, there is hardly any complain among the people living there. The people handle the situation with grace and show great spirit and courage. The situation for them is far from perfect, and uncertainty about what will happen and how long it will take is troubling the mind.

The government, NGOs, and many locals and residents have shown tremendous effort to support those people; most of them have little income and can barely make a living even under normal conditions.

We will see whether Agung will calm down, or continue at the level it is active currently. In both cases travelers will be safe and can enjoy the wonders of Bali, and not even notice that on the other side of the island Agung does what it does.

Whether Bali's most holy mountain will face us with a more massive and destructive eruption, nobody knows, and yes, it could happen. And nobody would dare to make a prediction or come up with a definite idea about the probability. But most agree, that even then, travellers staying in almost all areas in Bali will be safe and sound and appropriate measures would be taken by government an hotel managements to make sure, it will stay that way.

History of Events

Mount Agung - quiet for months, till 28th June 2018

Even though the volcano was active and had small eruptions here and there, it was not enough to disrupt airline traffic. On 28th of June, Agung started emitting ashes and even some lava, causing some airlines to first cancel and then causing the airport DPS to close for a few hours.

Mount Agung - eruption Nov 25th 2017

The Volcano in Bali, Mount Agung, erupted at around 5.30pm local time, shooting volcanic ash in the air at a height of around 1,500 meters.
The alert level has been kept at level 3 (SIAGA), which is one below the level that the government has announced a few weeks ago.
This indicates that there is no imminent threat or danger to the population outside the evacuation zone, which is around 7km radius from the center of the crater.
At around 11pm Mr. Nugroho from the National Disaster Agency posted a picture indicating that the volcano eruption could have entered the magmatic phase. Due to volcanic ashes and airline regulations some flights have been canceled coming from Australia. Travelers are advised to check with their airlines about the current conditions. Therefore please make sure your contact details that you gave the airline are up-to-date.
KLM, Virgin Australia and Jetstar have already canceled some incoming and outgoing flights due to Volcanic Ashes.


21st November 2017

Contrary to many reports in the media, particularly Australian news sites, the latest eruption has been very minor and caused no direct threat to anyone in Bali. Therefore calling it an eruption is misleading to the layman.

Sutopo Nugroho, the head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that the volcano erupted at around 5pm local time, Tuesday 21st of November. Everybody has been advised to stay calm and to stay out of the evacuation zone, that has been established (approx. 6-7km radius from the crater).
Staff from PVMBG, the department that is monitoring the activities of Mount Agung noted that the smoke rose up to 700m into the air and that small eruptions are still happening.
It looks as if Agung lets off some steam.

At the moment, their is no threat to air traffic and the airport DPS is functioning normally.

Minor amounts of volcanic ashes have been reported in the villages of Pipdpid, Bukit Galah, Sebudi, Abang and Nawakerti, which are all located within the evacuation zone.



1st October - thousands returning home

Thousands of Balinese returning to their homes on Sunday, Oct 1st

Around half of the Balinese who have been evacuated to shelters had no immediate need to evacuate and should return home, Indonesian authorities have said on Sunday.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, from the Indonesia’s national disaster agency said, that people from only 27 villages needed to be evacuated. "The rest can go home".
Seismologists from "MAGMA" reported, that the seismic activity is still on a very high level, but had been stable since three days (ca. 800 volcanic earthquakes daily).


Volcano in Bali - active since Sep 23rd 2017

Since end of October, the Disaster Management agency lowered the alert status for Mount Agung from 4 (highest level, AWAS) down to 3 (SIAGA), because the number of reported tremors reduced from 1000 a day to around 400. Yet, everybody agreed, that an eruption could still occur. 

At the time, also, the radius from Agung's crater of the volcano's evacuation zone got reduced from 12 kilometers down to 7.5 kilometers, which brought a significant relief to thousands of villagers, who could return to their homes. 

Scientists have warned since 23rd of September, that "an eruption could occur any moment", which lead to the evacuation of thousands of villagers, who lived near the crater. 
After so many weeks of anticipating and preparing for an eruption, particularly the villagers who have been evacuated, were put to the test. "It's extremely hard for them", aid worker Pak Made reported; "they left their homes, farms and also animals behind and need to make a living." 

The situation in the refugee camps is under control but the conditions are not perfect, to say the least. Most of the refugees are poor and live from hand to mouth and need to return to their homes; they simply can't afford to sit around and watch their farms and life stock suffer.

Also, Bali's economy, with the tourism industry as its backbone, has been hit quite hard. Some speak of a drop of business of 30-50% in some areas.

Balinese officials were complaining about Fake News and a lot of exaggerated and negative news reports using words like "killer volcano or other catchy headlines": "They put more fear into people than is proportionate to the real threat to visitors - which is in fact very low - even in case of an eruption". But we all know, bad news capture the attention more than good news, or facts for that matter. Some articles have a headline saying "1.600 people died because of Mount Agung". While only in the article itself they let you know that they refer to the incident that occurred more than 50 years ago. This hyped up journalism fishing for clicks and attention is highly irresponsible.
 

  • In case eruptions would occur, people outside the evacuation zone will be 100% safe (which includes almost all popular tourist areas.
  • Is Bali safe? Yes. The biggest problem holiday makers could face, is that the airport would be affected and could close, It's not really a matter of safety according to tourism officials. If the DPS airport would have to be closed, hundreds of buses will take tourists to Surabaya, where all Bali flights would be rerouted to.


29.9.2017 - Volcano Alert, Mount Agung not calming down

Since the evacuation process started on 23rd of September more than 134,000 residents within the exclusion zone have been evacuated. This safety zone stretches between 9 and 12 kilometers from the center of Mount Agung.
Although the situation is under control people are getting restless. A Balinese, Pak Made, from one of the nearby villages reported, that the uncertainty is very hard to handle. He has been in one of the evacuation centers since 6 days, is sleeping on floors and has to wait for something to happen, while not knowing when the and his family can go back home. Balinese from other areas in Bali have started their own support groups and donate whatever they feel could help the people in the evacuation centers.

Airport Situation

All airports in the region are on high alert while Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali (DPS) remains open. Officials reported that they have been preparing for a eruption. “We have had similar experience during the Mount Rinjani and Mount Raung eruption,” said Airport Operations chief Misranedi. In case flight schedules would be affected, taxis and buses would be provided to take people to the Padangbai seaport and Gilimanuk, so they could go by boat to Lombok or Surabaya.


23.9.2017 - Thousands of Villagers Evacuated

On Saturday 23. Sep officials have started with the evacuation of thousands of villagers in Bali. Scientists fear, that Mount Agung, could erupt for the first time in more than half a century, in 1963.

Authorities and scientists from the Indonesian Department of Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics registered five small eruptions, and an ash column as high as 1000 metres. The national disaster agency raised the alert status to its highest level, since these latest events are a significant increase in seismic activity compared to what is normal.
Officials insist, that there is no current danger to the Balinese and visitors staying in the other parts of Bali. Yet, it is advised, that no one should be within a distance of 9-12km to the crater. It's estimated that already 15,000 villagers have been evacuated.

Airport officials are on high alert and will stay in close contact with the authorities and scientists monitoring constantly the current situation.

Airlines such as Emirates, Qantas, and Jetstar keep operating on normal schedule but are also on high alert. In the last few years there were some eruptions in Lombok and Java which affected flights and airport operations also in Bali. Sometimes resulting in a complete shutdown of the airport for days, leaving thousands of tourist and travelers stranded.

The Australian Department of foreign affairs did issue a travel warning that some eruption could happen, which left many travelers confused in whether they should continue with their travel plans or cancel flights.

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Mount Agung is the highest mountain with an altitude of more than 3000m and is to the Hindus the most sacred. The memory of what happened in 1963, when 1,100 people got killed and several villages destroyed is still fresh enough to have immense respect of what could happen when their "mother mountain" decides to erupt. Such an event would also be interpreted by the Balinese within the context of religion and the spirit world.

Official Statement from Departement