Sleeping Giant Is About to Wake Up
There is a mass exodus of evacuees fleeing their homes on the Indonesian island of Bali as Mount Agung, a volcano in the island’s north, threatens to erupt.
More than 144,000 people have been taken to shelters in 500 different locations across the island, according to the Pacific nation’s government. Most of them are taking shelter in temporary camps, sports stadiums and other public buildings.
Volcanologists raised the alert level for the volcano to its highest point since Friday. Seismic activity continues in the volcano and the alert level for an eruption was raised to 4, the highest warning level on the Indonesian scale.
Agung, which dominates the landscape in the north-east of the island, last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,100 people. It remained active for about a year.
Not Certain When It Will Erupt
Though seismic activity of the volcano continues to be imminent and eruption is more likely than not, volcanologists can’t say with certainty when it will happen.
“I would definitely be following the advice to stay outside the exclusion zone,” said Heather Handley, an assistant earth sciences professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University. The increase in tremors suggests an eruption is “imminent,” she said.
The eruptions in 1963 are a lesson learned from the past where residents were not evacuated earlier to safer areas. That eruption was catastrophic and deadly clouds of searing hot ash, gases and rock fragments travelled down its slopes at great speed. Lava spread for several kilometres and people were also killed by lahars – rivers of volcanic debris.
Another Volcano Threatens To Erupt
A volcano known as Lombenben in Ambae island in Vanuatu is likely to erupt too. The volcano showed signs of erupting that triggered evacuations of 11, 000 residents.
A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aerial survey found “huge columns of smoke, ash and volcanic rocks billowing from the crater of an erupting volcano” on the island.
The alert level is at 4, the second highest on the scale. “Ambae volcano is in an ongoing moderate eruption state,” a statement from Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department said.
Residents were warned of the danger of flying rocks, volcanic gases and acid rain, thus an immediate evacuation is a must.
Both volcanoes sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense seismic activity that stretches 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) from New Zealand to South America.
Elevated earthquake activity in the region has been going on for the whole of this year.