Bali’s highest volcano Mount Agung has shown signs of significant seismic activity in the past couple of weeks. The potential eruption and the precautionary evacuations near the volcano have been a topic in the news all over the world in recent days. There are several forecasts about the potential eruption, but according to most sources, it could take days, weeks or even months before the actual eruption. It is also worth keeping in mind, that the seismic activity around Mount Agung does not necessarily lead to eruption at all. However, it is highly important to be prepared and to get ready for the potential consequences of the eruption. In this article, we take a look at the current facts available and give you a couple of tips for being prepared.
Last Friday on the 22th of September, the alert level of Mount Agung in the Eastern side of Bali, was raised to level 4, which is the highest level in use. Due to the heightened seismic activity, tens of thousands of people living inside the high-risk zone have been evacuated. Most of the direct hazards of the eruption come from the pyroclastic flows, hot torrents of volcanic debris, in the proximity of the volcano. The high-risk zone, or the so called red zone, is within 12 kilometers from the crater. This means that the main tourist areas such as Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu will most likely not be strongly affected by the potential eruption, as they are located around 70-80 kilometers away from Mount Agung. However, both locals and tourists alike in these areas need to be aware of potential ash fall or contaminated water and food, in case there is a significant eruption. The location of the ash fall is highly dependent on the winds, so it is difficult to forecast which areas outside the red zone would be affected.
There are couple of things to keep in mind if an ash fall should take place. According to the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, freshly fallen ash particles can have acid coatings, which may cause irritation to the lungs and eyes. Therefore, it is important to stay indoors with closed windows and doors. It is also important to have following items close at hand:
- Enough drinking water for at least 72 hours (3-4 liters) per person per day
- Canned food and dry food
- Swimming goggles
- Shoes and extra clothes
- Ziploc bags
- Candles and batteries
- First aid kit and basic medicines
- Plastic wrap (to keep ash out of electronics)
- A small amount of money
Freshly fallen ash particles can have acid coatings, which may cause irritation to the lungs and eyes. Therefore, it’s important to stay indoors with closed windows and doors.
Another inconvenience caused by the potential eruption could be the effects on air traffic to and from Bali. In case the air traffic at Bali international airport would be restricted after the eruption, the nine airports at nearby islands have got ready to transfer passengers.
Indonesia is a country with many volcanoes and it is estimated that more than 120 of them are active. Balinese Mount Agung is one of them and it last erupted in 1963. The Head of BIPAS program at Udayana University, I Made Rajeq, still remembers the last eruption and the following ash fall.
Even though over thousand lives were lost and ash fall reached areas outside the red zone, the Balinese still got on with their lives normally and unharmed even as near as 20 kilometers from the red zone, he clarifies.
– I Made Rajeq
The ability to predict eruptions has improved dramatically since then, and thanks to the advanced technology, authorities have been able to act fast with the evacuations from the red zone. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, just recently said there is no current danger to people outside the red zone area.
The heightened activity of Mount Agung has brought the Balinese community joining forces together, to help those 96,086 people evacuated from their homes and villages inside the red zone. Vehicles filled with noodles, mineral water and blankets have been sent to the evacuation centers where people have been moved temporarily. Unfortunately for them, it could take weeks or months, or even longer before they can leave the refugee camps.
To buy a face mask in Bali, please visit a Bali Buda shop nearby in your area:
International Volcanic Health Hazard Network:
For following volcanic activity in Indonesia:
A lot of useful information can be also found at Facebook group:
Bali volcano possible eruption Agung 2017