Locals, animals flee with fears Bali volcano could erupt at anytime

Posted September 29, 2017

Thousands of people have been evacuated in Vanuatu's northern island Ambae in the South Pacific as well as in the holiday island of Bali, Indonesia.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said activity of Mount Agung remained high on Thursday, recording 125 volcanic earthquakes between 12am and 6am.

A series of eruptions at Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nguroho said the chances of an eruption are "quite big", although experts can't predict when with certainty.

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In case of an eruption, Indonesia plans to divert flights headed for Bali to 10 other airports, including on nearby Lombok and the capital Jakarta.

Flights at Bali's global airport were operating as per normal on Monday (25 September) as were tourist spots across the rest of the island. An exclusion zone around the mountain extends as far as 12km from the crater in places but officials say people farther from the volcano are leaving too.

"The total number of tremors has decreased, but if we compare the strength [of tremors] it is definitely increasing", said Gede Suantika, an official at national vulcanology agency.

More than 62,000 people live within the danger zone however, anyone living outside the zone have fled.

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"Instrumentally, we have never recorded such high energy or seismicity from Mount Agung", said seismologist Devy Kamil Syahbana.

Kasbani, head volcanologist said: "If we look at the magnitude, it continues to increase, yesterday we also felt several quakes with the magnitude of three on the Richter scale".

There are more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, made up of thousands of islands on the "Ring of Fire" of fault lines and volcanoes in the Pacific.

One farmer said he was anxious that lava flows could destroy his house and farm.

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