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Planning to visit Bali? Beware as 35,000 flee amid volcano eruption fears

The mountain, 72-km to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia

Agencies  |  Bali 

Bali, Volcanic eruption, Indonesia, Flights
File photo of Bali's Ngurah Rai airport

More than 35,000 people have fled a menacing volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will erupt for the first time in more than half a century as increasing tremors rattle the region.

Authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level on Friday following a "tremendous increase" in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.

MEA has issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals travelling to to "keep abreast with the latest situation through their airlines and tour operators before finalising their plans. Non-essential travel should be deferred till the alert level is lowered."

"For those already in Bali, it would be safer to avoid travelling to north and east Please keep in touch with your Hotel and tour operators," Consulate General of India, Bali, said in a statement.

"In case of emergency and distress, please contact the Consulate General of India, at +628113976388 or +628113867270 or tweet @cgibali", the statement added.

Bali's Ngurah Rai airport (Denpasar Airport) has been prepared for an emergency operations centre, in the event of an eruption closing the busy airport.

Some 300 tremors were recorded between midnight and 6 am on Sunday, with authorities declaring a radius of nine kilometres around the mountain dangerous, local media reports.

The numbers today from disaster officials are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise, they say. It includes people who left voluntarily as well as those ordered to evacuate from a 9-12 km zone around Mount Agung.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised the welcoming response of local communities on to the flood of evacuees.

Thousands are living in temporary shelters, sport centres, village halls and with relatives or friends.

Truck driver Wayan Suparta said he and his family left their village 5-km from the mountain several days ago, bringing just clothes and blankets to a temporary camp in Rendang.

The 35-year-old said he sold the family's cow because they don't know when they'll be able to return.

Officials have said there is no current danger to people in other parts of Bali, a popular tourist island famous for its surfing, beaches and elegant Hindu culture.

In 1963, the 3,031-metre Agung hurled ash as high as 20- km, according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava travelled 7.5-km and ash reached Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, about 1,000-km away.

The mountain, 72-km to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

The country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

First Published: Sun, September 24 2017. 18:35 IST