Mount Agung: Up-to-date information on the pending eruption.

In Volcano by UbudHood

For the last few weeks we’ve been hearing sensationalized 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 imminent 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 so far about Mount Agung.

*UPDATES ARE POSTED BELOW IN PURPLE*
CURRENT SITUATION:
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.

mount agung evacuation bali
mount agung evacuation bali

Photo credit: Anggara Mahendra/ Everyday Bali

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.”

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.

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):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWSp0vXkBwk

mount agung eruption bali mount agung eruption bali
mount agung eruption bali
mount agung eruption bali
CURRENT RISKS IN BALI:

Obviously, for the people living within a close radius (9-12km) of the volcano, the risk is severe. People in this region should be evacuating now to ensure their safety. There are many shelters, schools and camps being set up in surrounding regions for evacuees to stay. We will create an additional article as more information comes to light about what you can do to help the local residents & animals of East Bali.

If you have plans to travel East, check in with your hotels or contacts in the region to see if the areas are being evacuated. Most areas to the East, along the coastline are currently safe, aside from areas of Sideman which have been evacuated. Amed is still open for business. 

In Ubud the main risk is the impending ash clouds that could occur as a result of an eruption. In 2015 the eruption of Mount Raung in East Java sent an ash cloud over Bali, forcing the closure of Ngurah Rai airport. At that time it didn’t affect us too badly in Ubud aside from having to clean up extra dirt on floors and bikes etc.

However as Mount Agung is significantly closer to us (Ubud is approximate 33km from the centre of Agung, as the crow flies) it is only safe to take precautions if the wind sends an ash cloud our way. 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 –
WHEN WILL MOUNT AGUNG ERUPT?

There is no way of knowing when Agung will erupt. It could be in 2 hours, it could be in 2 weeks. The word being thrown around a lot is that eruption is “imminent”. We will keep you updated of information as it arises.

WILL NGURAH RAI AIRPORT CLOSE?

It is possible that Ngurah Rai will close when the volcano erupts. 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.The current estimate is that an ash-cloud could reach a height of 6384m (20429ft) above sea level.  As a result the airport always takes precautionary measures when volcanos in the region are triggered. Whether this will affect planes in and out of Bali is yet to be seen, however it is likely. Ngurah Rai airport has reported that they have contingency plans in place in the case of an airport closure. 

Stay tuned to our website 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. Facebook speculation and stories from previous airport closures would suggest that you don’t have to pay the fine if you can prove you intended to leave during the time the airport was closed. (The regular fine is Rp. 300k per day.) But don’t take our word, check with a visa agent or immigration.

I HAVE A TRIP PLANNED IN 1 DAY/WEEK/MONTH…SHOULD I CANCEL IT?

The authorities monitoring the volcano suggest that an eruption is ‘imminent’, despite a week of waiting, she is still expected to erupt at some stage. Right now, life in Bali resumes as normal. Ubud is exactly the same as it is every other day. We remain prepared but calm. 

For tourist areas the only likely affect would be the ash cloud if the wind directs it south/south-west of Mount Agung. Ash-clouds can affect air quality and be harmful to those with respiratory issues. However the impact ash could have around Bali is still unknown, it could be a little or a lot.

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 there was word that some have stopped.  Check with your accommodation as to the latest date in which you can cancel your booking and stay informed with the latest news (real news, not overly-dramatic fake news) until that point, before making a decision. 

WHAT CAN I DO TO PREPARE IF AN ASH CLOUD COMES MY WAY?

Read our article about preparing for the eruption of Mount Agung. 

CAN I STILL GET TO THE GILI ISLANDS?

Yes, you can still get to the Gili islandToday, after 11.30am all boats to and from the Gili islands – Padangbai were suspended. The tremors and quakes from Mount Agung are causing large waves that are unsafe for the boats to travel over. If you’re planning a trip to the Gili Islands check out the up-to-date information over at The Gili Guide.

REFERENCES

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].