An Erupting Volcano In Bali Has Prompted Mass Evacuations And Stranded Thousands Of Travelers

After weeks of tell-tale rumbles, Mount Agung is spewing ash clouds over Bali while residents and travelers fear for the worst. The Indonesian resort island saw the volcano erupt at least three times over the course of Saturday night and Sunday. In the process, the volcano shot ashes 19,000 feet high, according to CNN. The New York Times further reports that officials designated an area of six miles surrounding the volcano for mandatory evacuations, which has resulted in 24,000 people flocking from their homes and hotels.

To further complicate matters, especially for tourists, the island’s international airport has been closed for safety reasons. As a result, approximately 7,000 passengers saw cancellation of their flights. And on Monday, matters may grow worse — a realization that has prompted officials to prep for an “imminent” massive eruption by raising the alert classification:

Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised its aviation notice from a red alert to a green one on Monday, indicating the potential for a larger eruption is imminent.

Over the weekend, residents were evacuated from 224 points around the island while Lombok International Airport on Pulau Lombok, the island due east of Bali, closed temporarily, said Ari Ahsan, spokesman for Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali … amid worsening conditions Monday, Jetstar Airways canceled all flights in and out of Bali.

The last time (1963) that Mount Agung saw a significant eruption, at least 1,100 people lost their lives. However, the latest rounds of tremors commenced in September 2016, which saw over 145,000 people evacuate. Since that time, businesses surrounding Mount Agung have been feeling the crunch as tourists increasingly avoided the area. Monday’s impending “green” alert is considered a Level 4 classification, although the National Board for Disaster Management says that the island’s condition remains “safe” for the moment.

(Via CNN & New York Times)