Tens of thousands stranded as Bali volcano closes airport

November 27, 2017

KARANGASEM, Indonesia (AP) — Authorities ordered a mass evacuation of people Monday from an expanded danger zone around an erupting volcano on Bali that has forced the Indonesian island’s international airport to close, stranding tens of thousands of travelers.

Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark gray ash about 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the atmosphere since the weekend. A mudflow of volcanic debris and water known as a lahar was filmed moving down the volcano’s slopes.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency raised the alert to the highest level early Monday and expanded the danger zone to 10 kilometers (6 miles) in places from the previous maximum of 7.5 kilometers. It said in a statement that a larger eruption is possible.

Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference in Jakarta that the extension of the danger zone affects 22 villages and about 90,000 to 100,000 people. He said about 40,000 people have evacuated but others have not left because they feel safe or don’t want to abandon their livestock.

“Authorities will comb the area to persuade them,” he said. “If needed we will forcibly evacuate them.” About 25,000 people were already living in evacuation centers after an increase in tremors from the mountain in September sparked an evacuation.

Bali’s airport was closed early Monday after ash reached its airspace. Flight information boards showed rows of cancelations as tourists arrived at the busy airport expecting to catch flights home.

Airport spokesman Air Ahsanurrohim said 445 flights were canceled, stranding about 59,000 travelers. The closure is in effect until Tuesday morning though officials said the situation will be reviewed every six hours.

Bali is Indonesia’s top tourist destination, with its gentle Hindu culture, surf beaches and lush green interior attracting about 5 million visitors a year.

Some flights to and from Bali were canceled on Saturday and Sunday but most had continued to operate normally as the towering ash clouds were moving east toward the neighboring island of Lombok.

“We now have to find a hotel and spend more of our money that they’re not going to cover us for when we get home unfortunately,” said Canadian tourist Brandon Olsen who was stranded at Bali’s airport with his girlfriend.

Indonesia’s Directorate General of Land Transportation said 100 buses are being deployed to Bali’s international airport and to ferry terminals to help travelers stranded by the eruption of Mount Agung.

The agency’s chief, Budi, said major ferry crossing points have been advised to prepare for a surge in passengers and vehicles. Stranded tourists could leave Bali by taking a ferry to neighboring Java and then travel by land to the nearest airports.

Geological agency head, Kasbani, who goes by one name, said the alert level was raised because the volcano has shifted from steam-based eruptions to magmatic eruptions. He told Indonesian television on Monday morning that he did not expect a big eruption but added “we have to stay alert and anticipate.”

The volcano’s last major eruption in 1963 killed about 1,100 people.

Ash has settled on villages and resorts around the volcano and soldiers and police distributed masks on the weekend.

In Karangasem district that surrounds the volcano, tourists stopped to watch the towering plumes of ash as children made their made to school.

Indonesia sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and has more than 120 active volcanoes.

Mount Agung’s alert status was raised to the highest level in September following a dramatic increase in tremors from the volcano, which doubled the exclusion zone around the crater and prompted more than 140,000 people to leave the area. The alert was lowered on Oct. 29 after a decrease in activity but about 25,000 people remained in evacuation centers.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano UPDATE: Thousands flee as Mount Agung enters ‘eruptive’ period

November 24, 2017

Residents caught in Mount Agung’s danger zone have been fleeing in their thousands to the safer regions of the tourist hotspot.

Hastily built refugee shelters sprung up in the shadow of the volcano today, with mother and children seeking refuge.

Yesterday health and safety volunteers were seen tirelessly handing out ash masks in case Bali’s tallest volcano erupts for the first time in 50 years.

Mount Agung reared its ugly head this week on Tuesday, when it spewed a thick plume of smoke over the island.

Joachim Gottsmann, professor of volcanology at Bristol University, told Express.co.uk: “From what I have seen in video coverage yesterday is that a white plume was visible.

“This indicates that the eruption was likely not magmatic. Many eruptions at volcanoes such as Agung start with what is called phreatic activity.

“Often but not always magmatic eruptions ensue after a period of phreatic activity.”

Phreatic eruptions occur when underground water passes over hot lava or magma, resulting in a ticking time bomb of dangerous gases and steam.

Bali volcano update: refugee shelter

AFP/GETTY

Professor Gottsmann said it not uncommon for magmatic eruptions to follow, and Agung’s increased activity this month could lead too further eruptions within weeks or months.

He said: “Magmatic means that molten rock is either erupted explosively with a dark eruption cloud or effusively in the form of a lava flow.

“All these eruptive activities can occur within short periods of time. An eruptive period may hence have several discreet eruptions.”

A sense of urgency was felt on the island yesterday – demonstrated in a powerful photo of a volunteer fitting a face mask on a little boy in Rendang district.

Elsewhere volunteers were seen walking through a traditional marketplace, handing out ash masks to vulnerable locals.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Travel insurers impose volcano cover bans after Mount Agung eruption in Bali

November 22, 2017
  • Jewel Topsfield & Amilia Rose

Bali: Some travel insurers are refusing to provide cover for any volcano-related travel disruptions if insurance policies are taken out after Mount Agung in Bali erupted on Tuesday, saying it would no longer be an “unforseen event”.

Bali’s international Airport has not been affected by the minor eruption of steam and ash from the volcano, which is about 75 kilometres away, and Virgin Australia and Jetstar both said their flights to and from Bali were operating as normal.

The Indonesian government has maintained the current volcano warning alert, a level three issued on October 29.

However at least two travel insurers – Travel Insurance Direct and 1Cover Travel Insurance – have issued cover cut-offs for any claims that might arise from the volcano once the eruption became a “known event”

The Australian Government has updated its Smartraveller advice saying there is the potential for ash fall to disrupt flights if volcanic activity escalates.

“Individual airlines make their own decisions about flight operations,” it says. “Contact your airline or tour operator directly for up-to-date information.”

Travel Insurance Direct said it was now issuing a cover cut-off for claims arising from “this known event”.

“For policies purchased after 8:05pm (AEDT) on Tuesday 21 November 2017, cover is not available for claims arising from any volcanic activity, including any new ash cloud events, as such events are no longer unforeseen,” it says on its website.

Gede Epo from Nawa Kerti village five kilometres from Mount Agung summit shows ash he picked from the roof.Gede Epo from Nawa Kerti village five kilometres from Mount Agung summit shows ash he picked from the roof. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Travel Insurance Direct said cover was available for policies purchased before this when there was no option but to change travel plans.

“Where your trip has not yet begun, cover is available for the lesser of rearrangement or cancellation costs.”

1Cover Travel Insurance said Mount Agung was excluded from travel insurance policies purchased after midday (AEST) on November 22.

“For policies purchased after midday (AEST) on 22 November 2017 cover is not available for claims arising from any volcanic activity, including travel service disruptions due to ash cloud, as such events were not considered unforeseen at the time of purchase,” it said on its website.

Travel insurance expert Bessie Hassan said there may be confusion around travel insurance as cover restrictions had been previously imposed, but were then lifted by a few brands.

The volcano alert level for Mount Agung – Bali’s largest and most sacred mountain – was downgraded to three on October 29 after 38 days on the highest possible level.

“Some insurers removed their cover bans between 30th October and 6th November so anyone who has taken out a policy since then should be eligible for cover,” said Ms Hassan, a travel insurance expert at finder.com.au.

“But other insurers haven’t lifted their restrictions at all so cover for the volcano likely won’t be provided if the policy was taken out within the last month or so.”

Tuesday’s “phreatic eruption” sent a dark grey plume up to one kilometre into the sky just after 5pm local time.

A phreatic eruption is a steam-driven explosion that occurs when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma (molten rock), lava, hot rocks or new volcanic deposits.

The volcano stopped emitting ash which coated leaves in Pidpid village in Abang subdistrict about six kilometres from Mount Agung at about 9pm Tuesday night.

“We were on alert all night until morning,” said volcanologist Gede Suantika from the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation. “We thought it would continue until this morning, but it didn’t. It’s just white steam now.”

Mr Gede said the alert status remained at three. The existing danger zone within a radius of between 7.5 kilometres around the summit also remained unchanged.

graphic

“We thought last night the plume would get higher and higher but that didn’t happen.”

Mr Gede said the amplitude of tremors was slowing down Wednesday morning.

“It could be that this is just a lonely blast that was caused by water seeping into the hot rocks at the summit, which doesn’t herald any additional eruptions,” volcanologist Erik Klemetti wrote in his science blog Rocky Planet.

“However many volcanoes start periods of more eruptions that continue new (juvenile) magma with phreatic blasts as the upper parts of the volcano system heats up.”

Mount Agung last erupted in 1963. More than 1500 people were killed and 1700 houses destroyed. Eruptions lasted for a year.

Mount Agung is one of nearly 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, an archipelago vulnerable to seismic upheaval because of its location on the “Ring of Fire”, a horse-shoe shaped belt of tectonic plate boundaries that fringes the Pacific basin.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano eruption: Flights not disrupted, airport remains open

November 22, 2017

THE eruption of Mount Agung volcano could spell bad news for any Australian travellers to Bali who haven’t yet taken out travel insurance.

Bali’s Denpasar airport is still open and flights in and out of Bali have not been affected since Mount Agung started spewing ash and steam in a long-awaited eruption on Tuesday night.

But should the situation worsen, Aussies who haven’t yet taken out insurance for their upcoming Bali trip may find themselves without cover for any volcano-related drama.

Some insurance companies imposed a cut-off time for eruption coverage at 8.05pm AEDT on Tuesday — precisely when the eruption started.

And that may leave in the lurch many of the 250,000 Aussies expected to visit Bali between now and the end of January.

Spikes in calls to travel insurers this morning suggest many Australians are confused about what the volcano means for their insurance — especially because this isn’t the first Bali volcano insurance cut-off since September.

Mount Agung volcano spewing smoke in Bali as it erupts. Picture: AFP/Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency

Mount Agung volcano spewing smoke in Bali as it erupts. Picture: AFP/Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation AgencySource:AFP

 

SORRY, WHAT?

Back in September, when everyone thought Mount Agung would erupt at any minute, Australian insurance companies imposed deadlines for Bali insurance policies.

Travellers who took out insurance before the deadline would be covered for volcano-related claims, such as delayed flights due to the ash cloud or emergency accommodation.

But those who missed out on the deadline would not be covered for the volcano, because at that point, an eruption was no longer considered an unforeseen event.

In October, when the alert status for the volcano was downgraded to the second-highest level, some insurers lifted their deadline and went back to normal. Others kept the deadline.

Now that the eruption has happened, some insurers who lifted their deadline have imposed a new one.

Bessie Hassan, travel insurance expert for finder.com.au, said it was a confusing situation.

“Some insurers have retained the ban they imposed a few weeks ago and that will have prohibited travellers from taking out insurance to Bali,” she told news.com.au.

Authorities on Bali have been waiting for Mount Agung to erupt for months. Picture: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Authorities on Bali have been waiting for Mount Agung to erupt for months. Picture: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“However, other insurers have lifted their bans within the last fortnight so anyone who took out a policy within that period from those brands should be eligible to claim.”

Ms Hassan said insurers who lifted the cut-off last month were likely to review that in light of Tuesday’s eruption.

“Remember that not all insurers have lifted their restrictions so contact them directly to confirm whether you’ll be eligible to claim,” she said.

“Those confused should check directly with their insurer to ensure that cover was taken out within dates that weren’t restricted.”

finder.com.au is updating a list of where insurance companies stand on this issue. But it’s best to just call your insurer directly if you’re unsure.

YOU SHOULD STILL BUY INSURANCE ANYWAY

Travel Insurance Direct’s travel expert Phil Sylvester said there had been a surge in calls and email inquiries on Wednesday morning following news of the volcano’s eruption.

Travel Insurance Direct is one of the companies that imposed a 8.05pm deadline last night.

“If a traveller purchased a Travel Insurance Direct policy prior to that cut-off they would still be covered for cancellation and delay expenses. So that means if the airport gets closed and they get stranded in Bali for a few extra nights, reasonable accommodation and meals expenses are claimable,” Mr Sylvester told news.com.au.

The volcano sent smoke as high as 800 metres above its summit, as it stirred to life again after more than 140,000 people fled homes around the crater last month. Picture: AFP/Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency

The volcano sent smoke as high as 800 metres above its summit, as it stirred to life again after more than 140,000 people fled homes around the crater last month. Picture: AFP/Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation AgencySource:AFP

“Similarly, if it means they can no longer reach Bali, then lost deposits and other expenses incurred are claimable.”

But if you missed out on the 8.05pm deadline, you should still take our insurance for your Bali trip, he said.

“This doesn’t mean your entire policy is void,” Mr Sylvester said.

“A policy bought after this cut-off date will still cover you for non-volcano medical costs, theft or loss of belongings, et cetera.

“You could still get hit crossing the road in Bali and need medical treatment, so it is still very important to take out travel insurance coverage.”

Mr Sylvester added if a traveller was stranded in Bali, they should keep their expectations for return flights and accommodation reasonable.

“You do not have the right to find yourself a first class seat to get home — even if it’s the only one available — and claim that from us,” he said.

“At best we’d only pay the equivalent of an economy fare, leaving you out of pocket substantially. So if you are stranded and really desperate to get home, and have found a flight, call us first to get clarification about your cover.

“In the same vein, if you need to find accommodation for extra nights, don’t book yourself into the presidential suite.”

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano ERUPTS: Latest eruption updates as Mount Agung SPEWS smoke and ash

November 22, 2017

MOUNT Agung is finally erupting in Bali, nearly two months after it first began to dangerously rumble. Here are the latest updates and news on the Bali volcano.

  • A thick black plume rose 700 metres above the summit of Mount Agung at around 5pm local time yesterday
  • The alert level on Bali remains at Level 3 on a scale of 1 to 4
  • An up to 7.5 kilometre exclusion zone extends from the volcano’s summit
  • Officials are monitoring the volcano for signs of increased seismic activity
  • No travel disruptions reported yet, but travellers should monitor the situation

Here are the latest updates from Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency, MAGMA Indonesia and other official sources. (All times GMT).

 

10.03am: UK Government urges Brits in Bali to stay away from Agung

Following the Bali volcano’s eruption yesterday, the British Government has released the following statement for UK nationals on the island:

“You should continue to monitor local media reports, follow the advice of the local authorities and stay outside the existing exclusion zone, which extends between six and 7.5km from the crater.

“If the current activity escalates to a major eruption, volcanic ash clouds could result in airport closures and flight disruption in the region.

“In the event of volcanic ash clouds you should confirm your travel arrangements directly with your airline or travel agent before travelling to the airport.”

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung eruptingEPA

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung is spewing great plumes from its crater

8.50am: Singapore urges citizens in Bali to prepare for evacuation

Singapore officials have told all of its nationals in Bali to prepare to evacuate the island, amid concerns about a bigger eruption.

“Singaporeans should defer non-essential travel to the affected areas of the island at this juncture,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a travel notice on Wednesday.

“You should also be ready to evacuate at short notice.”

7.29am: Volcanic ash hits Bali villages

Volcanic ash has fallen onto a number of villages surrounding Mount Agung, following yesterday’s eruption.

The five affected villages are Pidpid, Nawakerti, Bukit Galah, Sebudi and Abang Village, according to the Jakarta Post.

Officials from the Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG) in Bali have visited the village to inspect the extent of the ash coverage.

A spokesperson said: ”The PVMBG Emergency Response Team found [volcanic] ash, however, the intensity of the ash [falling on the villages] is still light.”

7.15am: Joe Tambini taking over live reporting.

The man in charge of monitoring Mount Agung, I Dewa Made Mertayasa, said the eruption was a “phreatic explosion” and there was no reason yet to broaden the evacuation zone around the volcano.

Mr Mertasaya said: “Phreatic means that the water in the crater surface collected because of heavy rain recently combined with ascending magma.”

2.42am: Currently there have been no further evacuations.

The island’s airport remains open and the police chief Petrus Golose has urged citizens to stay calm.

1.30am: When Mount Agung erupted 50 years ago, 1,600 people died in lava, mudslides and 1,000C gas clouds. The volcano threw ash 10km into the air and the gas and debris cloud killed more than 1,000 people when it exploded in 1963.

Bali Volcano going offEXPRESS

Bali volcano: Mount Agung is finally erupting after intense seismic activity

Tuesday November 21

Thomas Hunt takes over live reporting.

10.42pm: TO RECAP:

Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali erupted for the first time in more than 50 years today.

More than 140,000 people had fled their homes in recent months amid fears the volcano could erupt at any second.

Nearly 1,600 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963.

3.36pm: Bali eruption ‘may not lead to anything else’ claims volcanologist 

Mount Agung has finally erupted but the so-called “phreatic eruption” could be the end of trouble for now.

Volcanologist Professor Erik Klemetti said: “Just like before, we wait. If the earthquakes remain low, then maybe we’re not seeing the start of a larger eruptive period at Agung.

“We just need to watch all the warning signs that volcanoes provide.

“However, the Indonesian volcanologists who have been monitoring the volcano have done an excellent job, so if you are planning to travel to Bali or live on the island, pay attention to their words.”

Phreatic eruptions are steam-driven explosions that occur when magma heats water beneath the ground.

4.25pm: No spike in volcanic tremors 

Indonesia’s volcanology centre says there had not been an increase in volcanic tremors. The situation is being monitored.

3.21pm: Officials tell residents and tourists not to panic

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the BNPB’s public relations, asked all residents of the Indonesian island to remain calm.

He said: “Bali’s condition remains safe. Ngurah Rai International Airport is still safe and normal.

“Tourism in Bali is also still safe, in addition to the dangerous radius around Mount Agung is defined PVMBG which there should be no community activity.”

 

Bali volcano eruptionBPBD

Bali volcano: An Orange aviation colour code was issued for the erupting volcano

2.38pm: Mount Agung eruption triggered by hot steam buildup underground

The National Disaster Management Agency (PBDB) has described the eruption as phreatic, or one that is caused by exploding steam.

Steam driven explosions occur when vast amounts of water beneath the ground run over molten lava or magma, causing pressure to build up in the volcano. These are incredibly hard to predict.

Phreatic explosions are accompanied by smoke, volcanic ash and and other material in the crater.

The PBDB said: “So volcanic phreatic eruption is not something strange if the status of volcano is above normal.

“Usually the impact of the eruption is rain, ash, sand or gravel around the mountain.”

2.27pm: Orange aviation code issued over Mount Agung eruption

A Volcano observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) has issued an Orange alert level for planes. An Orange colour code warns of a heightened or escalating risk of eruption, or an ongoing eruption with no or minor ash emissions.

The VONA notice said: “Eruption with volcanic ash cloud started at 0905 UTC (1705 LT). Eruption and ash emission is continuing.

“Best estimate of ash-cloud top is around 12294 FT (3842 M) above sea level, may be higher than what can be observed clearly. Source of height data: ground observer.

“Ash cloud moving to east – south east.

“Seismic activity is characterized by volcano tectonic earthquakes.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
2.13pm:  Despite official confirmation of the eruption, the leader of a village near the volcano has said that they have not seen any signs of the eruption yet.

Besakih customary village chief, Jero Mangku Widiartha told Jakarta Post: “I am sure it has not erupted. We saw the mountain this afternoon.

“All of us saw it. It was not an eruption. There was no earthquake. We did not feel any earthquake.”

2.11pm: There were 29,245 refugees spread across 278 points of refuge as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.  

2.10pm: Bali’s international airport is still operating normally, according to an airport spokesman.

2.06pm: Ngurah Rai International Airport spokesman Arie Ahsan said: “The wind is blowing to the east with tendency towards southeast.”

2.05pm: Virgin Australia said: “We encourage guests booked via travel agents or third parties to ensure Virgin Australia has your mobile number, should we need to contact you in the event of any changes.

“Guests with travel insurance are also encouraged to check with their insurer about their individual circumstances.”

Bali volcano eruptionAFP/GETTY

Bali volcano: Officials have confirmed that there were no spikes in seismic activity

2pm: National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that people should stay out of the up to to 7.5 kilometre volcano danger zone.

“The status is still the same – level three,” Mr Sutopo said. “Volcanic activities have not shown any increase in earthquakes.”

1.55pm: Volcanologist Dr Janine Crippler tweeted: “Agung is not spewing, people are not panicked. At this time the eruption is small and everyone should be encouraged to stay calm, be alert, and watch official information sources.

“People in Bali, you have all known for a while this could happen. You’ve got this. Keep calm, be ready, and listen to official sources of information.”

1.50pm: Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency has asked people to remain calm after a 700 metre tall black plum rose from the volcano.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho has told people to stay out of a six to 7.4km exclusion zone surrounding the summit.

Bali volcano eruptsAFP/GETT

Bali volcano: Mount Agung sparked fears after sending a thick black plume into the sky

1pm: Magma Indonesia said that the eruption began at 5.05pm local time and grey plume has been seen rising as high as 700m above the peak.

An update issued today said: “The blasting ash is blowing weakly towards the east-southeast. The eruption is still ongoing.”

12.55pm: The aviation colour code from the Agung Volcano Observatory has  updated to orange.

12.45pm: The National Disaster Management Agency has described the eruption as “phreatic”.

The USGS said: “Phreatic eruptions are steam-driven explosions that occur when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks, or new volcanic deposits (for example, tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits).

“The intense heat of such material (as high as 1,170 ° C for basaltic lava) may cause water to boil and flash to steam, thereby generating an explosion of steam, water, ash, blocks, and bombs.”

12.45pm: Bali volcano is erupting after long period of seismic activity

Bali’s Mount Agung is finally erupting after authorities were first alerted by dangerous seismic activity on September 22.

The alert level at the popular tourist destination remains at Level 3 after it was downgraded from Level 4 on October 29.

Authorities are however monitoring the situation and any seismic activity in advance of a full-blown eruption.

12.45pm: Sebastian Kettley starts live reporting.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

November 22, 2017
Posted in: Mt Agung News

Bali volcano update: Earthquakes strike near Mount Agung as fears of eruption rumble on.

November 11, 2017

EARTHQUAKES struck near Bali’s highest volcano Mount Agung earlier yesterday amid fears that it could erupt at last.

Bali volcano update Magma

Bali volcano update: Earthquakes strike near Mount Agung

A magnitude 3.7 earthquake struck at 6.02am Western Indonesian Time (WIB) in the vicinity of Mount Agung, according to MAGMA Indonesia.

MAGMA’s interactive map showed a magnitude 5 earthquake hit slightly further away just hours earlier at 4.54am.

Bali’s Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) confirmed that a tectonic earthquake hit at 4.54am and was likely caused by a strike slip fault.

It comes after a magnitude 4.9 earthquake struck Bali on Wednesday, according to GFZ’s GEOFON seismology programme.

Nevertheless the latest graphs show that seismic activity has decreased at Mount Agung in recent weeks.

Mount Agung remains under a volcano alert and tens of thousands of evacuees are still staying in refugee camps.

The volcano’s alert status was downgraded from level four to level three at the end of last month after the amount of seismic activity dipped.

But the head of Bali’s Volcanology Centre (PVMBG) has warned that the threat of an eruption has not yet passed.

“The volcanic activities have not completely calmed down and there is still a potential for an eruption,” he said.

Many Bali volcano refugees have returned to their homes in Mount Agung’s danger zone to mark the festival of Galungan which runs until November 11.

Made Dwi, from Besakih village, told Antara News: “Prayers are being held at the family temple, the village temple, and other various temples.

 

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Mount Agung still active, but less threatening

November 7, 2017
Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Thousands of Balinese evacuees returned home after living more than a month in evacuation centers on the Island, following the decision of the Indonesian authorities to lower the alert status of Mount Agung from Level 4 (dangerous) to Level 3 (high alert) on Oct 29, 2017.

“According to the images observed by the drone, the magma activity has dropped for the last nine days, and the volume of ashes ejected from the crater has decreased,” Kasbani, head of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministrys Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG), said in Karangasem District, recently.

Located in Karangasem, Bali Island, the 3,142-meter-high Mount Agung has been rumbling since August, but the volcano has not yet erupted.

In the last two months, the officials had recorded the activity of the volcano to be high. “(However), for the last three days, the tremors were stable from 100 to 200 shocks per day,” he remarked.

Apart from the tremors, the GPS-based observer and tiltmeter have pictured that the deformations at the crater were slowing down.

“There is no pressure (in dropping the volcanos alert status). Our decision is based on some observations on the craters deformation and other indicators,” he explained.

Since PVMBG declared the highest alert level of Mount Agung, about 144,389 people living in the affected zones in Karangasem, had been evacuated to several regions, including the neighboring districts of Klungkung, Buleleng, Bangli, Gianyar, and Denpasar.

The Klungkung disaster mitigation office (BPBD) has facilitated the return of the evacuees to their respective homes.

“We did not force them to return home, and they can stay at the refugee camp for as long as they want,” Putu Widada, head of the local BPBD, stated in Bali, on Oct 30.

The office deployed five buses and three trucks to transport a total of 3,758 evacuees back to six villages, namely Buwana Giri, Sebudi, Besakih, Jungutan, Dukuh, and Ban, in stages.

A total of 134,500 people are currently taking refuge in eight districts and one municipality city in Bali.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), remarked that many residents are still staying in the dangerous zones.

“Thousands of people have returned home in red zones. Some of them are at home only in the afternoon,” he revealed.

Following the stage III status of Mount Agung, the Bali Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said that it would evaluate the further condition on some disaster-prone areas (KRB) situated at the foothill of the volcano, Karangasem district.

“For now, there are six villages categorized as the disaster-prone areas. However, not all the neighboring regions are part of KRB. Some villages have been announced as a safe zone,” the head of Bali mitigation office, Dewa Made Indra said.

Indra further mentioned the six disaster-prone villages, such as Jugutan, Buwana Giri, Sebudi, Besakih, Dukuh, and Ban.

“However not all regions within the villages are prone to the disaster. Therefore, we are now still maintaining communication with the local chairmen,” Indra remarked.

Despite the lower alert status, the emergency status of Mount Agung in Bali Province has been extended until Nov 9, to anticipate the threat of the volcanos eruption.

“The extension of Mount Agungs highest alert level is also intended to help meet the evacuees basic needs,” he remarked.

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation has established a safe zone beyond the 12-kilometer radius of the mount.

Despite Mount Agung showing increased activity, 98 percent of the tourist attractions on Bali Island remain safe for visit, the Bali Tourism Board stated.

“According to information from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, 98 percent of the tourist areas remain safe in Bali, even if Mount Agung erupts,” Dewa Gede Ngurah Byomantara, head of the Boards Bali Tourism Hospitality Division 3, was quoted as saying on the official website of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, recently.

If the volcano were to erupt, only two percent of Balis tourist attractions — Besakih, Tulamben, and Tirta Gangga — would be affected.

“Kuta, Ubud, Nusa Dua, and Sanur are located far from Mount Agung. Until now, we believe that the area beyond 12 kilometers from Mount Agungs crater remains safe,” he added.

Earlier, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika had convinced tourists to visit the resort island without hesitation, adding that it remains safe and conducive despite the increased activity of Mount Agung, which is located in Karangasem District, Bali Island.

The governor made assurance during a meeting with tourism stakeholders, such as travel operators, in Denpasar, Bali, on Oct 3.

If Mount Agung erupts, it will have a direct impact on only 28 villages located within a radius of 12 kilometers from the volcanos crater.

Another assurance was given by Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, who informed the international public that Bali remains safe for visits, despite the alert status of Mount Agung being raised.

“Bali remains safe for tourist visits by both domestic and foreign travellers. We have taken various anticipatory measures and are well prepared in case of an eruption,” he had said on Oct 5.

He stated that only few areas would be affected by the volcanos increased activities, while a large number of tourist destinations in Bali would remain safe.

Several key Balinese destinations, such as Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Lake Beratan Bedugul, Tampak Siring Palace, Bali Safari and Marine Park, Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Sanur beach, Tanjung Benoa, Goa Gajah, and Nusa Penida, are located quite far from the volcano and not affected by the increase in volcanic activity at Mount Agung.

Kuta Beach, which is some 75 kilometers away from the volcano, is also safe.

Bali has set a target to attract 5.5 million foreign tourists this year.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Travel Insurance Direct reinstates cover for Mount Agung in Bali

November 1, 2017

Cover available but a potential new cut-off date looms.

With news of authorities lowering the alert status of Mount Agung on 29 October 2017 from level four (Awas) to level three (Siaga), Travel Insurance Direct (TID) is now offering travellers cover in the event of any new eruption or volcanic activity from 3pm 30 October 2017 (AEST).

This is great news for travellers planning on travelling to Bali, as you’ll once again have cover if your trip is affected by any new volcanic activity.

“With a TID policy in your pocket, if Mt Agung roars back into life and causes your holiday to be cancelled, or strands you in Bali, you’ll have an avenue to make a claim.” TID spokesperson Phil Sylvester said in a statement.

Already have a policy with TID? Don’t worry, you’re covered too.

“People who took out policies during the exclusion are now covered for future events,” Sylvester told finder.com.au.

It’s not all good news, though. While the authorities have reduced the alert for Mount Agung, according to the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, “volcanic activity of Gunungapi Agung has not abated completely and still has the potential to erupt.”

It’s for this reason that even though cover with TID is available at the moment, it is not set in stone. Any new volcanic eruptions or threat elevations would mean a new cut-off date for cover from TID.

It’s been more than a month since Mount Agung started rumbling, leaving many would-be travellers in a state of limbo about heading to Bali.

So far, TID appears to be the only travel insurance brand to lift its exclusion but we will update our cover table as more lift their moratoriums.

Posted in: Mt Agung News

Mount Agung evacuees permitted to return home in danger zone for Balinese Hindu holiday Galungan, but some celebrate far away from volcano in refugee centers

November 1, 2017
Galungan on Nov. 1, 2017, from the quiet Balinese village of Duda. Photo via Instagram/@ @stt_yowanasidhakarya

Some evacuees from Mount Agung have returned to their villages in the danger zone to celebrate the Balinese Hindu feast holiday of Galungan which started Wednesday, Nov. 1, while others have chosen to stay far away from the volcano and remain in refugee posts to mark the ten-day festival.

Falling twice a year, every 210 days on the Balinese Saka calendar system, Galungan recognizes the victory of good (dharma) over evil (adharma) for ten days, concluding with Kuningan.

As tradition has it, Balinese go back to their hometowns to pass the holiday and although not a nation-wide tanggal merah (national office holiday), the feeling of Galungan in Bali is palpable. It’s a three-day island-wide facultative holiday so banks, schools, and office shut down, and Bali’s “Christmas tree,” penjor—tall bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaves—line the streets.

Though Mount Agung’s alert status was downgraded from level IV (danger), the highest level, to level III (standby) on Sunday, Balinese residents from six villages inside the new, reduced exclusion zone remain evacuated. The red zone had been nine to 12 kilometers from the crater, but the radius was cut down to a span of six to seven and a half kilometers when the alert level went down, allowing for thousands of evacuees to return home

Agung danger zone
A sign warns people from entering the volcano’s danger zone. Photo: Coconuts Bali

The volcano, located in Karangasem regency, about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, had been on level IV since Sept. 22, resulting in the estimated evacuation of more than 180,000 people.

“Prayers are being held at the family temple, the village temple, and other various temples,” Besakih Village resident Made Dwi, 30, told Antara on Wednesday.

The atmosphere feels different this Galungan for some, as many Besakih area residents stay in evacuation centers in Klungkung, the next regency to the south after Karangasem. 

“Some people have returned home and stay in each other’s homes, but there are still many in the refugee camps because their neighborhoods are still in disaster prone spots,” Dwi said.

A photo posted to Instagram shows evacuees preparing the traditional Balinese dish of lawar, inside an evacuation center.

However, thousands of Balinese still went on this year to Pura Besakih, Bali’s “Mother Temple,” located in the danger zone on the slopes of Agung, as footage from Liputan 6 shows from Wednesday.

One resident of Sebudi Village, Nengah Pondoh, says his family would return home during the day to prepare for Galungan and pray, but would leave again at night, as their village is just four kilometers from the crater. Galungan requires much preparation between the food for feasting, penjor, and getting offerings ready.

“When night falls, we evacuate. We’re afraid to stay at home too long,” the 60-year-old said.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika previously stated that evacuees from the red zone were permitted to enter and return to their respective villages for the sake of conducting Galungan prayers.

While Agung’s alert status for an eruption is no longer at the highest level, Indonesia’s volcanology center reminds the public that an eruption is still possible.

 

Source: https://coconuts.co/bali/news/mount-agung-evacuees-celebrate-balinese-hindu-holiday-galungan-refugee-posts-others-return-home/

Posted in: Mt Agung News

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