Mt. Agung erupts again

February 14, 2018
  • News Desk The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Tue, February 13, 2018 | 06:51 pm

 

Mount Agung erupted again at 11:49 a.m. on Tuesday, spewing a plum of ash 1.5 kilometers into the air.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB) spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the eruption lasted 140 seconds, and did not appear to cause any disruptions to the daily activities of local residents nor to flights.

“The airport’s operations continue to run as normal and no effects have been seen,” Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport spokesperson Arie Ahsanurrohim said.

The intensity of the ash was assessed as medium, but no further eruptions followed.

Light ash fell in Pandan Sari, Dukuh village, Kubu subdistrict in Karangasem.

The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) said the alert status for Mt. Agung remained at level 3, with a 4 km exclusion zone declared around the crater.

PVMBG has installed a detector on Mt. Agung to serve as an early warning system.

Mt. Agung began erupting for the first time since 1963 in August last year. On Feb. 10, the authorities lowered the alert status of the volcano from level 4, the highest level, following a decrease in volcanic activity. (sha/dmr)

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Five active volcanoes on my Asia Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ watch-list right now

February 9, 2018
February 9, 2018 by Heather Handley, The Conversation
Five active volcanoes on my Asia Pacific 'Ring of Fire' watch-list right now
The Ring of Fire extends around the Pacific Rim in a horseshoe shape. Credit: Earth Observatory of Singapore

In Indonesia, more than 197 million people live within 100km of a volcano, including more than 8.6 million inside a 10km radius.

The country has a record of some of the most deadly volcanic eruptions in history, and right now there are ongoing eruptions at the Agung, Sinabung and Dukono volcanoes. But other volcanoes in the region are active too, including Kadovar in Papua New Guinea, Mayon in the Philippines, and Kusatsu-Shiranesan in Japan.

Although it all seems to be happening at once, it’s normal for the Asia-Pacific region to have frequent earthquake and volcanic activity.

But we still need to keep a close eye on things, and local volcanic authorities are monitoring activity to manage risks and evacuations adequately.

These volcanoes are part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire“, a horseshoe-shaped belt of earthquakes and volcanoes that runs for some 40,000km, roughly around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The Ring stretches from South America, up to North America and across the Bering straight, and down through Japan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and New Zealand. It generates around 90% of the world’s earthquakes and contains 75% of its .

Here are the volcanoes on my Asia-Pacific watch list this week.

Agung, Bali, Indonesia

Mount Agung in Bali has been highly scrutinised for the past few months, largely because of Bali’s popularity as a tourist destination.

After a series of volcanic earthquakes (more than 1,000 per day at its peak), eruptions began on November 21, 2017.

Since then we’ve seen frequent explosive eruptions emitting gas, steam and volcanic ash reaching thousands of metres above the .

Drones used by the Indonesian Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) show an estimated 20 million cubic metres of new lava in the crater, filling roughly one-third of it.

In the evening of January 19 an explosion of fire (known as a “strombolian” eruption) ejected glowing rocks up to 1km from the crater. The alert level remains at the highest level, with an exclusion zone in place.
There have been very few issues for tourists visiting Bali so far, apart from a temporary closure of Denpasar airport in late November 2017. However, thousands of Agung’s local residents are still displaced from their homes, with many still stationed in evacuation centres. It remains uncertain when those living closest will be able to return home.

Many evacuated pregnant women have given birth to babies since leaving their homes in places such as the Bumi Sehat’s community health center and birthing clinic in Ubud, which relies on donations to keep running. As a mother of a one-year-old and a three-year-old, I can’t imagine having a newborn baby and not being in the comfort of my own home.

Volcanic rocks were ejected from the Kusatsu-Shirane volcano.

Sinabung, Sumatra, Indonesia

Sinabung volcano awoke in 2010 after a 400-year sleep, and is currently one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It has been pretty much in constant eruption since September 2013, and there are still frequent volcanic earthquakes.

Eruptions have produced ash plumes reaching as high as 11km into the atmosphere, as well as ash fall and lava flows. There have also been volcanic mudflows (“lahars”) and fast-moving, hot flows of gas, ash and rock fragments (“pyroclastic flows“), which have killed 25 people.
The initial activity in 2010 saw around 30,000 people evacuated. In August last year the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) reported that there were 7,214 people displaced, and a further 2,863 living in refugee camps. For the locals, life seemingly goes on in the midst of eruptions.

The alert level currently remains at 4 (on a scale of 1-4), with exclusion zones of 3-7km around the volcano.

Mayon, Luzon, Philippines

Mayon, around 330km southeast of Manila, is a picture-perfect volcano with its steep-sided conical cone, typical of stratovolcanoes. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, with 24 confirmed eruptive periods in the past 100 years. Mayon’s most violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people and destroyed several towns.

The recent eruption began on January 13, 2018, and is continuing, with several episodes of dramatic lava fountaining, one lasting 74 minutes.

Eruptions during January 23-29 generated 3-5km-high ash plumes and multiple pyroclastic flows, which travelled more than 5km down drainage channels. The alert is at level 4 (on a scale of 1 to 5) and an 8km danger zone is in place.

Lava flows have currently made their way up to 4.5km down river valleys from the summit crater.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) estimated on January 27 that the total volume of material deposited from ash fall and pyroclastic flows amounted to 10.5 million cubic metres. Remobilisation of this loose volcanic material by rainfall to form volcanic mudflows is a major concern.

According to news articles, more than 75,000 people have been evacuated, along with the temporary closure of Legazpi airport around 15km away.

Kadovar, Papua New Guinea

Until January 2018, when it began erupting, I hadn’t heard of Kadovar. It’s a 2km-wide, 365m-high emergent summit of a stratovolcano off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

The volcano had no confirmed historic eruptions before 2018. However, it is possible that William Dampier, a 17th-century pirate and later maritime adventurer, witnessed an eruption at Kadovar during a voyage in search of Terra Australis.

Activity began on January 5, 2018, with rising plumes of ash and steam from the volcano. The island’s inhabitants, some literally living on the crater rim, began evacuating at that time. People were initially taken by boat to neighbouring Blup Blup island but then to the mainland along with other nearby islanders, due to the close proximity of the eruption and logistics of providing people with supplies.

Five active volcanoes on my Asia Pacific 'Ring of Fire' watch-list right now
The top 10 countries for population within 100 km of a volcano (left) and the top ten countries (area over 31,415 km²) for percentage of the total population (right). Credit: Sarah Brown and co-authors

The Rabaul Volcano Observatory reported that activity significantly escalated on January 12, with a large explosive eruption and  ejected to the south. Large amounts of sulfur dioxide have been detected since January 8, and continue to be released along with ash and steam plumes. A lava “dome” has been observed glowing at night.

The impact from the eruption is not just confined to those on Kadovar and nearby islands, with satellite imagery tracking an ash plume from Kadovar travelling over tens of kilometres.

Identified volcanic risks at Kadovar include further potential explosive activity, landslides, and resulting possible tsunamis.

Kusatsu-Shirane, Honshu Japan

On January 23, 2018, an eruption occurred at Kusatsu-Shirane volcano without any prior warning, catching Japan’s Meteorological Agency and volcanic experts, not to mention the skiers on the volcano, by surprise.
According to agency’s volcanology division, there had been no  at the apparent site of the eruption (Kagamiike crater), for about 3,000 years.

The eruption ejected a black plume of ash and larger volcanic material that damaged a gondola and the roof of a mountain lodge.

The ejected volcanic rocks, which landed up to 1km away from the vent, injured several people. A member of the Ground Self-Defence Force who was skiing in a training exercise was killed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has since analysed the deposits of the eruption and state that there was no new magma erupted on January 23.

Japan has more than 100 active volcanoes, with many monitored 24/7 by Japan’s Meteorological Agency.

Living near volcanoes

Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan have the greatest numbers of people living within 100km of their volcanoes. The populations of small volcanic island nations, such as Tonga and Samoa, almost all live within 100km.

Indonesia has the greatest total population located within 10km (more than 8.6 million), 30km (more than 68 million) and 100km (more than 179 million), and a record of some of the most deadly volcanic eruptions in history.

The eruption of Tambora in 1812-15, was the largest eruption in the last 10,000 years and killed around 100,000 Indonesians (due to the eruption and the ensuing famine). The infamous eruption of Krakatau (Krakatoa) killed an estimated 35,000 people, almost all due to volcanic-generated tsunamis. Volcanic mudflows (lahars) generated by the eruptions of 1586 and 1919 at Kelut (Kelud) in Java took the lives of 10,000 and 5,000 people, respectively.

Keeping watch on the world’s volcanoes is a big job for the local volcanic agencies. This is particularly true when volcanoes erupt for the first time in history (Kadovar is a good example) or there were no warning signals before , as at Kusatsu-Shirane.

Explore further: Philippines’ Mayon volcano alert raised as eruption feared

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-volcanoes-asia-pacific-watch-list.html#jCp

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali numbers on the rise again with Bali Tourism Board offering travel assistance

February 9, 2018

TOURIST numbers to Bali continue to improve following the lessened threat of a major eruption from Mount Agung.

Arrivals were hit very hard when Mt Agung threatened major damage and flight delays after its initial eruption in September 2017.

China subsequently put in place a total travel ban to the island and Australia’s numbers dropped significantly. China and Australia are Bali’s first and second highest-generating tourist markets.

February is traditionally a quieter month for travel to Bali, but an airline spokesperson said Australian flight loads are improving and even Chinese numbers are slowly on the rise. The numbers have been helped by airlines and tour wholesalers offering special packages to encourage travel back to the island.

The potential Mt Agung hazard is now predicted to only affect an area within a radius of 6-10 km of the volcano’s crater, (the volcano itself is around 75 kilometres from the main travel centres of Kuta and Seminyak and so tourists mainly have been protected by distance).

The fear of potentially being stranded in Bali should volcanic dust close air corridors to Bali also has been addressed, by establishing alternative exit routes should visitors need to leave even if Ngurah Rai Airport is temporarily closed.

These alternative land and sea routes to other gateways including Surabaya and Banyuwangi in East Java have been established and tested.

Although a raised volcano alert had been in place for four months, Bali’s airport has closed only once – for just 2.5 days in late November. At that time, guests needing to continue their travels were able to travel to Surabaya or Banyuwangi to connect with domestic and international flights. A spokesperson for the Bali Tourism Board said: “Should another temporary airport closure occur,  transportation to alternate airports will be provided free of charge to visitors unable to wait for the re-opening of Bali’s airport. Those remaining in Bali will be provided one night complimentary accommodation at their hotels and then heavily-discounted rates for the rest of their stay.

Meanwhile preparations are underway for FHT Bali 2018, the annual mart for food, hotels and tourism that will be held 01-03 March at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre. The show also incorporates Retail Indonesia 2018.

Now in its 11th edition, this event attracts key trade-only buyers from the region’s leading resorts, hotel chains, restaurants and importers. Over 1,300 exhibitors will showcase the latest products, innovations, technologies and services to supply the  growth in Indonesia’s hospitality sector. Last year’s event attracted more than 10,000 visitors.

This year, FHTB brings more products and attractive wine and spirits events – Bali Sommelier Competition 2018 is taking place at FHTB.

Pictured: Ayoda Resort in Nusa Dua (top image) and the Bali Niksoma in Legian – two Bali resorts that are very popular with Australians.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Risk Analysis Report – Mt. Agung Volcano, Bali, Indonesia, December 2017

February 7, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ADRA Indonesia and HelpAge International conducted an assessment from 17 – 20 December in Bali, Indonesia, to identify the current impact of the Mt. Agung eruption on surrounding communities, and project what the impact would likely be if an eruption similar to 1963 occurred.

Mt. Agung is a stratovolcano. The main hazards produced by this type of volcano are: explosive eruptions, pyroclastic flows, lahars and slow-moving lava flows. Typically the pyroclastic flows and lahars cause the majority of the deaths, with the ash generated by explosions creating the greatest disruption and discomfort to communities.

The last eruption of Mt. Agung was in 1963 and resulted in the death of about 1,600 people. The eruptive phase lasted for almost one year.

The latest eruption of Mt. Agung started in early August 2017. This has resulted in explosive eruptions, pyroclastic flows, lahars and lava flows, with about 70,000 persons currently displaced at evacuation centres. Experts are not willing to predict how long or large this current eruption will be. The eruptions to date have not been as large as the 1963 one.

It is estimated that if an eruption the size of 1963 occurred there could be as many as 180,000 IDPs.
Based on the current assessed needs of IDPs, priority needs are likely to include shelter, food security,
NFIs especially bedding, protection for women and girls, education and livelihoods support.

The electricity supply is particularly vulnerable to a major eruption. The electricity supplier has taken mitigatory steps in this regards, however it is expected there will be major electricity outages. Generators have been pre-positioned for most evacuation centres.

Bali’s fuel storage centres are not considered to be at risk from a major eruption. There is at any one time more than one month’s fuel supply stored on the island.

Cellphone network providers have taken mitigatory steps to ensure the cellphone network should continue to either be available or repaired and up and running quickly following an eruption. The government has established a radio-based communication system for early warning and to facilitate a quick and orderly evacuation in areas not well serviced by the cellphone network.

Water supplies in the regency surrounding Mt. Agung are at high risk of being lost in the event of a major eruption. Already more than 50,000 people have been affected by the recent eruptions. It is expected that clean and adequate water supply will be a major issue following an eruption.

Although school-aged children have been displaced, this appears to have been managed well, primarily by integrating into schools near evacuation centres. This however has placed pressure on the schooling system.

A number of community health centres have been closed in the evacuation zone. At this point in time existing health facilities appear to have been able to accommodate the health needs of IDPs. There are three hospitals in the regency surround Mt. Agung, however none of them are located in the high risk zones.

The Karangasem Regency has the lowest HDI among the Bali Regencies. This indicates the population are likely to be more vulnerable to shocks. This is further exacerbated by the downturn in tourism, which is an economic driver in Bali, and through displacement the loss of opportunity to earn an income.

Given that the needs of current IDPs are not being fully met, and that services such as health and education are barely managing due to depleted services, it is expected that a major volcanic eruption of Mt. Agung would result in a humanitarian crisis. The assessment has identified the greatest needs as being for shelter, WASH, food security, NFIs especially bedding and health needs.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

The Great Gunung Agung And The Displaced Balinese

January 19, 2018

Following the months of turmoil amongst the displaced Balinese who live within the impact zone on Mount Agung our reporter describes their ordeal and imminent issues surrounding the volcano, those impacted by the volcanic activities and how we might start to address them.

On December 20, the Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya announced a new level two status for all areas outside the impacted zones. With this lowered alert status, the tourism industry could start promoting Bali on a large scale with a budget of Rp.100 billion, according to the minister. He went on to state that in the last 36 days the losses due to the lack of tourists have been about Rp.9 trillion with the national level at Rp.15 trillion.

According to the Center for Volcanology of Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMPG), the only alert given out is for the impacted zones around the volcano and not “for the rest of Bali.” The radius they describe is for the initial impact zone for an explosive eruption. Obviously government officials have overlooked issues such as the secondary effects of ash fall, pyroclastic and lahar (a type of mudflow or debris) that only nature can determine.

President Jokowi visited south Bali the weekend of December 22, walking along Kuta Beach, where he was happily escorted by Balinese and his many admirers. He had his picture taken with citizens and foreign tourists before going to the popular eatery Made’s Warung in Seminyak. The President and his wife Iriana had visited an evacuee camp in Klungkung on September 26, located in the Swecapura Sports Centre. It is one of 162 evacuee camps in Klungkung housing more than 19,456 people.

However, there is an elephant on the island of Bali and no one seems to be addressing its inherent issues properly at the national or international level. Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla did in fact express concern over the condition of evacuees, especially the seniors who are immobile in camps and children who are unable to attend school. After initial aid was sent consisting of food supplies and other staples, little has been said of the immediate problem of the evacuees and conditions they are living under or what will happen when they are able to return to their villages, if at all.

President Joko Widodo along with Vice President Kalla chaired a limited cabinet meeting in Bali on December 22 to assure the world that travel to Bali was safe, along with its readiness to receive as many tourists as possible.

The evacuation started on September 15. That is a long time to be living in a makeshift camp away from normal, daily life. The evacuees are from some of the communities that make up the backbone of Balinese culture and we must ensure their survival. Yet the camps are forgotten as tourism is promoted. The real issues to contend with at this point are disaster mitigation and community restoration and rehabilitation. It appears there is more interest in bringing foreign tourism back than addressing the needs of the Indonesian people in Bali. Tourism should not control policy making.

Speaking with Enong Ismael, a community leader who has been visiting many different camps, he expressed concern for the impact upon the daily lives of the displaced: ”More than half of the evacuees are from remote villages and know nothing of modern life or city life. They live close to nature, grow rice and other crops, tend their cows and chickens and pigs, and have a deep cultural and traditional life which revolves around their home temple and community temples. When it is a good day, some go back to their village to tend their crops and animals. But now, so much time has passed that the crops are ruined and the livestock has had to be sold off for a tiny percentage of its value. After the first few weeks all the shops are closed and the villages are ghost towns. The debt collectors are going to the camps and collecting bikes and phones and even deeds to land as 90 days have gone by a while ago and people have no income. The full effects of the evacuation are not known but the longer it continues, the more aid will be required to build the communities that are evacuated, if the areas even survive a volcanic eruption. The scarecrow in the camps is the debt collector.”

More than 150,000 people are homeless and that number is growing as drivers and those dependent on tourism lose their income.

However, during this period of slow tourism other problems have become all too obvious. Bali had a month of regular traffic flow at the peak of the tourism glut. It was obvious that the normal traffic at that time is exactly what the infrastructure could hold. Now Bali is back to gridlock but most tourists are domestic. The rivers carry plastic and debris down to the beaches which despite daily cleanings, are still covered in garbage, especially plastics. Garbage piles can be seen in front of temples such as Tanah Lot.

Perhaps it is time to invest in a more diverse economy. Tourism creates massive amounts of money into an economy from a single industry, creating dependence on foreign interest as it contributes to an uneven distribution of wealth. There remains a need for access to education in income generating professions other than hospitality. Bali has a long history of creating wealth through their creative arts and crafts where, in this high tech global economy, it can flourish. However, education is needed in various sectors such as the medical and legal professions in addition to technology.

Local farming can generate more income by becoming more diverse and adhering to organic standards. Even animal husbandry, if done properly and organically, will bring more profit. All these things mean more knowledge must be made available and economic support is required. Education is also needed in disaster mitigation training and drills. The current plan is not sufficient. Bali is a disaster prone area with landslides every rainy season and storm damage, not just a highly active volcano sitting on the Ring of Fire.

Most importantly the communities now displaced must survive, and support is needed right now. The Mount Agung Relief group is a group of NGOs and individuals who are putting together a pilot project in Tembok; an independent evacuee center in Buleleng to create a self- reliant model for evacuees that allows them to support themselves and have activities in a semi-temporary camp they could build themselves. The National Body for Disaster Mitigation [BNPD] has already committed to supporting the prototype with the possibility that it will be presented to the President for further expansion.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Agung’s eruption worse than Bali bombing, say hoteliers

December 16, 2017

Hoteliers in Bali say the impact of Mount Agung’s eruption is larger than the 2002 Bali bombing, and are crying for more efforts and a bigger promotional budget to recover business losses.

Anak Agung Yuniarta Putra, head of Bali Tourism Office (BTO), said: “When the Bali bombing took place, (Jakarta injected) a budget of 750 billion rupiah (US$56 million today or worth US$81 million in 2002) immediately. But nothing has been offered for Bali’s recovery yet.”

He stressed the need for the central government to continue promotions overseas to attract international travellers back to the island.

Haryadi Sukamdani, chairman of Indonesia Hotel & Restaurant Association (IHRA), told TTG Asia on the sidelines of the Visit Wonderful Indonesia 2018 launch recently that hotel occupancy post the airport closure was “alarming”.

“The impact is bigger than the Bali bombing. After the bombing, the recovery process could be done right after, while today we still do not know when the eruption is going to end. With travel warnings in place and insurance companies declining protection, it is not easy to convince travellers to come under such circumstances,” he lamented.

While Haryadi declined to mention the current occupancy of IHRA members in Bali, reports reveal that it is between 15 per cent and 25 per cent. This compares with an occupancy of around 80 per cent during the same period last year, according to BTO’s Putra.

In addition, the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) was quoted by Kontan.co.id as saying that flights to Bali had declined by 30 per cent as the result of the eruption. INACA’s head of flight affairs, Bayu Sutanto, opined that the trend would continue up to early next year as long as the high alert status of the volcano remains.

Last week, Indonesia’s tourism minister Arief Yahya estimated that there has been a loss of around a million arrivals due to the eruption.

Arief said: “Following the closure of the airport, daily arrivals to Bali was between 3,000 and 9,000 passengers, while average arrivals (on a normal day) is 15,000. This means a loss of around 250 billion rupiah per day.”

The minister has urged for “domestic travellers to spend their holidays in Bali and companies to stage events on the island”.

However, Indonesia’s two major inbound tour operators Panorama Destination and Pacto claimed that the impact on their business was low as the eruption took place during the low season. Although it is now the December holiday season, it is not as big as the June-August peak season.

Marcel Schneider, managing director of Panorama Destination, said: “With the exception of some group cancellations from India, we have had few cancellations. The reason for that might be that the majority of our clients come from European source markets (and this is not the season for Europeans).

“There is never a good moment for this to happen as it will affect the livelihood of lots of people. But in the low season, consequences will hopefully be less severe,” he shared.

Ratty Ning, president director of Pacto, said: “We lost around nine billion rupiah due to the eruption and closure of the airport, (but) that is only about three to four per cent of our total business this year.”

Posted in: Mt Agung News

“I just watch the sky,” she says. “Watch the sky and pray.”

December 16, 2017

About 100,000 residents were evacuated in September when the ground shook and geophysicists predicted a major eruption – but many residents remain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 6:03am

Nathan Thompson

Ketut Suweni shovels gravel on the slopes of Mt Agung while the volcano spews ash clouds. For a second her sandal slips on the pile of black and grey stones and she stumbles onto her hands and knees.

“I keep an eye on the volcano while I work,” she said, wiping grime from her face. “The ash is quite light right now but if the sky turns dark I will leave.”

Trucks carrying sand and gravel, and a few locals on motorbikes, are the only traffic left in the danger zone around Mt Agung. Roughly 100,000 residents were evacuated in September when the ground shook and geophysicists predicted a major eruption. About 55,000 are living in dank, wet evacuation camps outside the 12km danger zone.

The volcano is in Bali – the Indonesian island home to 4 million and popular with tourists, although many are choosing to holiday elsewhere since the eruptions. Currently, hotels have 25 per cent occupancy compared to 80 per cent this month last year, according to the Malay Star.

However, miners like Suweni do not have a choice. They need the US$73 for each truck they fill – a fee they split. Suweni earns about US$15 a day. This gravel is used to build roads and in rock mixture to make bricks.

“We do not have a licence to mine here,” she says. “We have a partner who pays the police off.”

I keep an eye on the volcano while I work. The ash is quite light right now but if the sky turns dark I will leave

KETUT SUWENI, WORKER

About 70 per cent of the miners do not have permits, according to Wired magazine. It is cheaper to bribe the police than get a licence that requires the group to pay for land restoration once the project is complete.

Suweni works in sandals and thin, patterned clothes shovelling rocks. Above her, on a ridge cut from the mountain, men swing hunks of rock into grinding machinery.

They all dashed for safety on November 25 when a colossal ash cloud darkened the sky and cinders fell like rain. The volcanic ash clouds grounded flights in Bali and the nearby island of Lombok for several days, causing travel chaos. Magma glowed like a cigarette against the dark clouds but it did not spill. Within days, Suweni was swinging her shovel again.

“I’m very worried,” she says. “But we must earn money.”

At the main observatory in Rendang, Dr Gede Suantika, a geophysicist, expressed concern for the miners.

“They should leave for their own safety,” he said. “We have sirens set up around the volcano that may be able to warn them. But if the volcano releases hot clouds there may not be enough time for them to escape.”

Hot clouds, known as pyroclastic flows, are clouds of fast-moving volcanic matter. Most of the 1000-plus people who died during the last eruption in 1963 were killed trying to outrun hot clouds.

The state of alert remains at its highest level but Suantika said: “If the ash clouds remain small then we will consider reducing it in a couple of weeks.”

Not that Suweni would know. She says her group do not listen to the radio for updates and none of them have smartphones.

“We can only listen to the mountain,” she says. “If the earth shakes, we run.”

It is not easy for people to leave their livelihoods even if it is dangerous. Ketut Urianda has not seen a customer at his restaurant and guest house on the edge of the danger zone for a fortnight.

“People here struggle to earn a living,” says Urianda, a retired teacher. “Rice farming is unpredictable as the crops can fail and you can’t get a job in the tourism industry if you do not speak English.”

Balinese miners are part of a worldwide industry. Sand and gravel “account for the largest volume of solid material extracted globally,” according to a 2014 report from the United Nations Environment Programme. It is used in the multibillion-dollar construction industry and as countries start to ban sand exports, citing environmental damage, the value is likely to rise.

Suweni and several other women wait at a damp bus stop for their husbands or friends to take them home.

“Usually I live near here but now I’m staying with family further away from the volcano,” she says.

Her drive back to where she is staying goes through eerily deserted streets and past boarded up houses, speckled with grey ash.

“I just watch the sky,” she says. “Watch the sky and pray.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Miners ‘just watch the sky and pray’

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Filmmakers Visit Volcano-Ridden Indonesia and the Indigenous People Who Live Among Them

December 14, 2017

 

Filmmakers Justin Pelletier and Adam Maruniak of Brick Films have been hard at work over the last three months to produce this “volcano epic,” and it does not disappoint.

The Vancouver-based duo spent two months in Indonesia on a client project and somehow managed to fit this beautifully crafted production into their crazy schedule. Traveling to four of Indonesia’s astounding list of volcanoes over their two-month stay, they went with no fixers and befriended locals to help tell the story.

The most notable of their boots on the ground help is Nararya Nemo Narottama, a man whose family has roots at the foot of Mount Agung, an active volcano, and the highest point in Bali, Indonesia. While Pelletier and Maruniak were wrapping up production at Narottama’s family home, the call came to evacuate. Narottama’s voice can be heard narrating the piece throughout.

For all you gear heads out there, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that a majority of this thing was shot on a Panasonic GH4 coupled with a Glidecam for camera support. And the aerials? A humble GoPro Hero 5 flown on Gopro’s Karma drone.

Not only is the cinematography and storytelling top notch, but the score and accompanying sound design are also very impressive. Impressive enough that “Amongst Fire” has been short-listed for a few film festivals. Follow along with the Brick Films crew for those announcements! Great work gents!

All images used with the permission of Adam Maruniak.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano eruption latest update: Plume rises from Mount Agung

December 10, 2017

MOUNT Agung in Bali was seen coughing out more plumes of steam and volcanic gas this morning, as the volcano continues to teeter on the brink of eruption.

 By JOE TAMBINI 

White plumes of “medium intensity” could be seen rising up to 2,000 metres above the volcano’s crater this morning, as locals braced for another major eruption.

Nearly 67,000 residents have now been evacuated from Mount Agung’s danger zone, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Bali’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

Agung erupted twice late last month, firing volcanic ash thousands of metres into the air on November 25 and producing a series of dangerous mudflows known as lahars.

After a week of relative calm, the volcano was photographed puffing small plumes of volcanic ash yesterday, sparking fears that a third eruption could be imminent.

Earlier this week Heather Handley, a volcanologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University, explained that Mount Agung is “clearly still in an active phase”.

“At all volcanoes we can expect fluctuations in activity,” she told Associated Press. “This does not mean that the threat is over.”

Authorities have kept the Bali volcano‘s alert at it maximum level and a state of emergency on the island has been extended until at least December 10.

Despite experts warning that another violent eruption is likely, officials are keen to stress that areas outside Agung’s 8-10km evacuation zone are still safe for tourists.

Bali volcano steaming

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho / TWITTER. Bali volcano update: Mount Agung coughed steam up to 2,000 metres into the air this morning.

Bali volcano eruption latest update: Plume rises from Mount Agung

MOUNT Agung in Bali was seen coughing out more plumes of steam and volcanic gas this morning, as the volcano continues to teeter on the brink of eruption.

White plumes of “medium intensity” could be seen rising up to 2,000 metres above the volcano’s crater this morning, as locals braced for another major eruption.

Nearly 67,000 residents have now been evacuated from Mount Agung’s danger zone, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Bali’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

Agung erupted twice late last month, firing volcanic ash thousands of metres into the air on November 25 and producing a series of dangerous mudflows known as lahars.

After a week of relative calm, the volcano was photographed puffing small plumes of volcanic ash yesterday, sparking fears that a third eruption could be imminent.

Earlier this week Heather Handley, a volcanologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University, explained that Mount Agung is “clearly still in an active phase”.

“At all volcanoes we can expect fluctuations in activity,” she told Associated Press. “This does not mean that the threat is over.”

Authorities have kept the Bali volcano‘s alert at it maximum level and a state of emergency on the island has been extended until at least December 10.

Despite experts warning that another violent eruption is likely, officials are keen to stress that areas outside Agung’s 8-10km evacuation zone are still safe for tourists.

Bali volcano steamingSutopo Purwo Nugroho / TWITTER

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung coughed steam up to 2,000 metres into the air this morning

Sutopo tweeted this morning that Bali “remains more beautiful than any other tourist destination”.

Earlier this week it was reported that Bali has lost about £450 million worth of tourism trade due to the uncertainty surrounding Mount Agung.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has admitted that the holiday hotspot is likely to fall one million visitors short of its yearly target.

After Agung erupted last month, airlines were forced to cancel flights to and from Bali, leaving thousands of tourists stranded on the island.

Bali volcano eruptingGETTY

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung erupted twice in November

JetStar, AirAsia, and Virgin Australia have all since confirmed that flight schedules have returned to normal, though another eruption would almost certainly see planes grounded once more.

Volcanic eruptions are almost impossible to forecast accurately, so a good way for scientists to predict whether a volcano is about to erupt is to study its past activity.

Mount Agung last erupted nearly 55 years ago when a series of violent eruptions killed more than 1,100 people.

The eruptions started with a number of small ash bursts followed by lava flows and more explosive eruptions a month later.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano eruption latest update: Plume rises from Mount Agung

December 10, 2017
MOUNT Agung in Bali was seen coughing out more plumes of steam and volcanic gas this morning, as the volcano continues to teeter on the brink of eruption.
The images, which were taken at about 6pm local time (10am GMT), is an ominous sign for the locals who have been forced to flee their homes to escape the threat of another eruption.

Øystein L Andersen‏, a photographer and volcano enthusiast in Bali, said the plume “looks like it contains some ash”.

Posting the images on Twitter, he said: “Agung volcano just now, seems to have just released a small eruption plume.”

He later added: “Another photo of the small plume, that was observed at Agung this afternoon. The plume looks like it contained some ash.”

 

Bali volcano erupting

Øystein L Andersen / TWITTER

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung sent an ash plume into the sky earlier today

More than 62,000 locals have been evacuated from their homes inside Mount Agung’s evacuation zone following two eruptions late last month.

Agung blasted volcanic ash thousands of metres into the air on November 25 and has been producing dangerous mudflows known as lahars ever since.

Activity within the Bali volcano subsided last week, though experts warned that another more violent eruption is likely.

Heather Handley, a volcanologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University, explained earlier this week that Mount Agung is “clearly still in an active phase”.

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung erupting

Øystein L Andersen / TWITTER

Bali volcano news: Mount Agung has been erupting since late last month

“At all volcanoes we can expect fluctuations in activity,” she told Associated Press. “This does not mean that the threat is over.”

The plume looks like it contained some ash

Øystein L Andersen, Photographer in Bali

Bali officials have kept Mount Agung’s volcano alert at it maximum level and a state of emergency on the island has been extended until at least December 10.

These latest images will raise concerns that a third eruption could be imminent.

Volcanic eruptions are almost impossible to forecast accurately, so a good way for scientists to predict whether a volcano is about to erupt is to study its past activity.

Mount Agung last erupted nearly 55 years ago when a series of violent eruptions killed more than 1,100 people.

The eruptions started with a number of small ash bursts followed by lava flows and more explosive eruptions a month later.

Agung produced a series of deadly pyroclastic flows in 1963 and there are now fears that history could be about to repeat itself.

Nengah Tresni, who was 12 when Agung last exploded, told AP: “I’m sure there will be a big eruption. It is just a matter of time.”

Bali volcano erupting

Øystein L Andersen / TWITTER

Bali volcano update: Ash was seen rising about Mount Agung on Wednesday

She added: “In the old eruption many people did not expect it to be big because there were small eruptions for a long time and villagers just went to the temple to pray.”

While monitoring technologies have improved exponentially since the previous eruption, authorities are still struggling to persuade locals that they need to evacuate.

There are still tens of thousands of residents living in Agung’s danger zone who are adamant that they should stay in their villages and put their fate in the hands of the gods.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

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