Unless you’ve been hearing living under a rock, you would have heard stories in the media that suggest Bali is about to blow. Whilst that isn’t the case (i.e. the whole island isn’t going to explode), the situation is worsening and it’s important to be informed of the risks of the eruption of Mount Agung. We’ve spent time talking to people, sifting through the BS and finding credible sources. So, before you go envisioning scenes from Dante’s Peak, here is what we know about Mount Agung.
Update from Monday the 4th December:
Mount Agung’s belly has been rumbling with numerous days in the last week where the seismograph registered extremely high volcanic tremors (note: these are not earthquakes and are rarely felt in Ubud). The ash-cloud traveled to ubud for about 12-24 hours, during which time most drivers wore glasses and a mask whilst on their motorbikes. But, for the most part, the ash in the air was barely noticable.
Today, there is no evidence of ash anywhere in Bali! In fact, according to those nearby Mount Agung is barely releasing a whiff of ash today. It doesn’t mean that her stomach isn’t grumbling. But at least on the outside, for now, she is calm.
The airport is open with the aviation alert sitting safely at orange.
Update from Monday the 27th November:
Mount Agung has experienced two phreatic eruptions recently (the 21st and 25th of November). A phreatic eruption is caused from the reaction that occurs when water (either coming inside, or from the ground) is exposed to lava inside the volcano resulting in an eruption of steam and gases.
Today it is believed that it has turned from a phreatic into a magmatic eruption, the latter being type of eruption that is more commonly associated with volcanos. It is expected that the magmatic eruption will be an effusive one (oozing down the sides), not an explosive one (mountain goes boom!). It is not classified as a highly dangerous eruption. The exclusion zone remains at 7.5km around the perimeter of Agung, and the warning level sits at 3 (highest is 4).
There is a large ash cloud over some portions of Bali traveling inline with the direction of the wind. Currently, we have heard reports of small amounts of ash on the East side of Ubud. It is advised to carry an N95 mask incase the ash worsens in certain areas. Aside from that there is no visible difference here in Ubud and daily life resumes as per normal.
Ngurah Rai Airport will be closed until 7am tomorrow morning, potentially longer depending on the cloud of ash which impairs visibility for flights departing from and arriving in Denpasar.
UPDATE from Tuesday 3rd October:
Evacuation centres have been set up all over the island and thousands of people have been evacuated. We visited Klungkung sports stadium earlier in the week where there are 3000 evacuees, with many other large and small camps surrounding the exclusion zone of the volcano. The exclusion zone is now 9km-12km around the perimeter of the volcano. You can find the map of the exclusion zone here via Google Maps. If you’d like to help the evacuees we suggest following this facebook page. Please keep in mind that these people are likely to be displaced for a long period of time and will need support long after the media hype dies down.
Saturday 23rd September
Last night the volcano was increased from a Level 3 to a Level 4 (the highest level in Indonesia). Level 4 indicates volcanic activity that will eventually result in an eruption, although the timing is unknown. Hundreds of volcanic/tectonic quakes and tremors have been recorded daily since the 19th of September. The last couple of days we have been feeling minor tremors here in Ubud. However life in the hood resumes as normal. In fact, if we didn’t have Facebook there’d be very few hints to the fact that the belly of mother Bali is growling to the north of us.
At the scene of the volcano an area of 9km-12km around Mount Agung is now being evacuated. Sports arenas, public halls, schools and camps are filling with thousands of people in Klungkung and Karangasem. A few initiatives are taking place to set up sanctuaries or move livestock & animals from the exclusion zone. Locals in the area are concerned about potentially losing their livestock, and livelihoods as a result, and are returning home to feed the animals on a regular basis despite warnings of the danger in the area.
According to Rio Helmi of Ubud Now & Then: “They [were] expecting a total of 1500 new evacuees there [last] night. Meanwhile a camp set up in Sibetan is set to receive thousands, and there are new camps in Manggis and other villages.
In the ‘no-go’ zone within a 7.5km radius of the crater there are 50,000 inhabitants. When I asked new arrivals who were being registered in the sports arena in Klungkung, they consistently spoke of relatives who still refused to leave. Many were concerned at the loss of livestock, many others were selling their cattle at a 50% loss rather than have nothing at all.
At the volcano monitoring activity last night there was a lot of activity but there has been a lull in the last few hours – which according to the geologists is not necessarily a good thing.”
Photo credit: Anggara Mahendra/ Everyday Bali
THE LAST TIME MOUNT AGUNG ERUPTED:
Mount Agung’s last eruption occurred 54 years ago, in 1963. The eruption took nearly 1500 lives, with pyroclastic flow (that is, the avalanche of ash, gases and rock caused by the eruption) claiming the lives of 820 people. However, back then, they didn’t have the technology we have today to record volcanic movements. Now we are much better equipped to monitor and predict volcanic behavior and the recent evacuation will hopefully protect locals who reside by Mount Agung.
Check out the footage & photos of from the last eruption of Mount Agung (however ignore the narrators condescending remarks about Balinese religion):
CURRENT RISKS IN BALI:
For the people living within a close radius (10km) of the volcano, the risk is heightened. People in this region should be evacuating now to ensure their safety. There are many shelters, schools and camps have been set up in surrounding regions for evacuees to stay.
In Ubud, the only consequence of the current eruption (or an explosive one in the future) is a potential ash cloud. Thus far, when the ash headed in our direction, the effect was minimal in Ubud. However Ngurah Rai airport was temporarily closed. If you’re concerned about what do to incase a cloud of ash is sent your way read our article about preparing for the eruption of Mount Agung. The online resource ‘Windy’ show you the current direction that the wind is traveling so you can get an idea of where the majority of the ash may be directed.
– FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS –
WILL THE AIRPORT BE CLOSED WHEN I COME TO BALI?
It has already closed once, and it is possible that Ngurah Rai may close again. However it is not possible to predict if or when this may happen. It is dependent upon numerous factors such as the amount of ash being released and the direction of the wind. We suggest you check out our resources to stay informed on the current situation.
The cloud of ash released from a volcano upon eruption is made from tiny abrasive rock particles and glass, these particles can be fatal if they get inside the engine of a plane. As a result the airport always takes precautionary measures when volcanos in the region are triggered.
Stay tuned to our Instagram Stories as we will keep you notified on changes in the operating hours of Ngurah Rai airport.
IF I AM STUCK IN BALI DUE TO AIRPORT CLOSURE WILL I HAVE TO PAY THE FINE IF I OVERSTAY MY VISA EXPIRY?
We aren’t 100% sure about this one, as immigration don’t have strict procedures in place. However last time the airport closed, travellers who were about to overstay their visa were required to visit the immigration desk at Ngurah Rai airport, with their itinerary, in order to get exemption on their visa overstay.
I HAVE A TRIP PLANNED IN 1 DAY/WEEK/MONTH…SHOULD I CANCEL IT?
Right now, life in Bali resumes as normal. Ubud is exactly the same as it is every other day. We remain prepared but calm. We have already experienced the effects of an ash cloud and they were minor. That’s not to say it couldn’t worsen, but the eruption would need to be significantly larger.
The concern is not whether you can enjoy a holiday in Bali, as daily life here is the same. But, whether a potential airport closure could affect your travel plans. The best thing you can do is buy travel insurance that will cover you in the case of airport closure, and potentially needing to cancel hotel bookings. Please be sure to check with insurers are still covering the case of the eruption in Bali, as some have stopped.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREPARE IF AN ASH CLOUD COMES MY WAY?
CAN I STILL GET TO THE GILI ISLANDS?
Yes, you can still get to the Gili islands.
Agung Volcano, Indonesia – John Seach. 2017. Agung Volcano, Indonesia – John Seach. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.volcanolive.com/agung.html. [Accessed 23 September 2017].
Ubud Now & Then. 2017. News from Under the Volcano – Ubud Now & Then. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ubudnowandthen.com/news-from-under-the-volcano/. [Accessed 23 September 2017].
National Geographic Society. 2017. volcanic ash – National Geographic Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/volcanic-ash/. [Accessed 23 September 2017].
YouTube. 2017. Active Volcano Mount Agung Erupts (1963) – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWSp0vXkBwk. [Accessed 23 September 2017].
Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi. 2017. Magma Indonesia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://magma.vsi.esdm.go.id/. [Accessed 23 September 2017].