Bali Volcano - Mount Agung Alert



Current Update on Bali Volcano Situation, Mount Agung

Seismic activity has reached a new high, since Bali's "Holy Mountain woke up" a few weeks ago and the evacuation zone has been established. Scientists have said since 23rd of September, that "an eruption could occur any moment", which lead to the evacuation of thousands of villagers, who live near the crater. Current activity levels are indeed very high now and magma seems to keep rising towards the surface. So yes, the statement that the volcano cold erupt is still valid.

Airlines strongly suggest, that all Bali travelers, whether already on Bali or scheduled to come to Bali, should keep their contact details up-to-date, in case of any flight changes.

Balinese officials are complaining about Fake News and a lot of exaggerated and negative news reports: "They put more fear in people than is proportionate to the real threat to visitors - which is in fact very low". But we all know, bad news capture the attention more than good news or facts.
 
Many Holiday makers who are scheduled to come to Bali within the next few weeks are concerned and uncertain about whether to cancel their holiday plans or not. Even though, volcanic eruptions are hard to predict, scientists and tourism officials are somewhat agreeing on the following scenario so far:

  • Based on the data gathered, scientists anticipate an eruption of Mount Agung and it could happen any moment
  • When, how strong, and even if the volcano will erupt is still uncertain and cannot really be predicted
  • If an eruption would occur, people outside the 9-12km evacuation zone will be 100% safe (which includes almost all popular tourist areas. For the moment, mainly the area around Tulamben is affected, while Amed is located just outside the evacuation zone)
  • Is Bali safe? 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.
  • The biggest challenge so far is to cater for the tens of thousands of Balinese who had been evacuated from the evacuation zone and are staying in 419 refuge points. Due to this, the governor of Bali has issued a temporary state of emergency until 12th of October.


Bali Volcano - Good to Know

Some feedback from the team supporting the volcanologists at the station on Mt. Agung where they are continually monitoring seismic activity and volcanic ash in the air:
Scientists report, the magma has risen from a depth to only 2km below the surface, form previously 100-kilometers. They expect it will try to break through the surface. The seismic activity has not increased during the last few days but stays on a very high level (800 tremors daily).

After the VONA alert level (Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation) has been raised to orange from yellow and seismic activities have increased drastically since September 23rd, almost 150,000 people have been evacuated, while almost half of them could start to go home, due to adjustments of the evacuation zone. 

The prevailing winds are coming from Australia and blowing N-NE. That would keep the airport clear in case of an eruption, for at least several more weeks when the winds might shift direction.

Is Bali Safe?

Scientists and tourism officials agree, that travelers to Bali will be safe, even in case of an eruption. The evacuation zone is 9-12km while Ubud is 37km and Kuta 71km away. Tourists would most probably be affected by a disturbance of the airport operation in case ashes would force the officials to close the airport in Bali.

Warning & Safety Measures
There are sirens installed all around the Mount Agung. Sirens will go off once the scientists expect an eruption within 2 hours, as a warning for anyone who might still be within the evacuation zone (9-12 kms radius). Everyone has been evacuated in this zone officials reported. Besakih Temple and the Tirtagangga Water temple are closed.

Most people who had to evacuate are well taken care of and are provided, food, water ans shelter, some have moved in with family members who live outside the evacuation zone. The Indonesian government set aside Rp.3trillion (US$225million) to aid the refugees & for any other emergencies related to this situation. President Jokowi flew to Bali on Thursday and increased the amount to Rp.4trillion (US$305million).

Many NGOs and individuals are putting tremendous effort in, to support the government and help the villagers and also the life stock left behind, during this uncertain times.

It has been reported that since several days now, also the wildlife has responded and many monkey and snakes are instinctively fleeing the area. For the locals a clear sign, that the alert level is serious.


Second Tier Evacuation Zone
In the event of a more massive eruption the, evacuation zone will be extended to a 16-24km radius.
People loving within this area, were asked to be prepared to leave from 2 hrs to 2 weeks depending on how the situation will unfold.


Safe Areas
It is expected that only Karangasem would be affected by an eruption. Safe zones include Candi Dasa, Singaraja, Ubud, Amed, Gianyar, Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, Bukit & Nusa Dua, generally all areas in the South & West and NW of Bali are not affected.

The tourism areas that are affected however, are some villages at the north east coast which are famous for diving. Tulamben, which is located within the official evacuation area is deserted. Hotels, restaurants, speed boat services in Tulamben have shut down and stopped operation until further notice. Amed, which is only 4km outside the evacuation zone and also Padang Bai stay in high alert.

Logistics & airport
VONA is still on it's highest level. DPS Airport and also the nearby airports around Bali are observing the situation closely and have been preparing for this event. Over the last few years, the Bali Airport had several days when they had to close due to volcanic ashes coming from the volcanoes in Java and Lombok. So, although such a situation is a logistic nightmare, it is nothing new and measures to handle the situation are set in place.

For the moment, also due to wind conditions a closure of the airport is still unlikely. So far, the government has prepared 350 buses to transport travelers to Surabaya where all the planes that could not land or take off in Bali would be diverted.



Bali Map

Bali Maps

Check out our Bali map and find out about the location of major tourism centers.

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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).


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.