Written by @Saschaflower
So it finally happened, Mount Agung in Bali has started erupting this week. We want to stress that Bali is still safe and that the volcano alert status for Mount Agung still remains on Level 3 (the second highest level). Earlier this week on Tuesday 21st November at around 5pm local time there was a ‘small’ amount of ash and smoke that erupted from Mount Agung in Bali and then yesterday Saturday November 25th at around 5:30pm local time a volcanic ash cloud stretched at least 1500km into the air.
Since September we have heard non stop news about the possible eruption of the very awake, volcanic Mount Agung in Bali. Mount Agung is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is part of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. The Alert level was raised to it’s highest possible threat level on Septemer 22nd 2017. Over in Bali everyone was fearful as monkeys and snakes were seen fleeing from the volcano, which sparked more speculation that Mount Agung was ready to blow and a state of emergency was declared.
Following this more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the danger zone surrounding the volcano. These people have been living in refugee camps in Bali since then and the Island of Gods has seen a significant decline in tourism, despite efforts to reassure everyone that it is still safe to visit as the tourist areas are not in the danger zone. This then, also affected other tourist areas around Bali such as Nusa Lembongan, The Gili Islands and Lombok.
On Sunday October 29tt 2017, the official threat level for Mount Agung was lowered from Level 4 (highest level) to Level 3. This is after a substantial decline in seismic activity. Just as everything seemed to be quieting down, just less than a month after, On Tuesday 21st November 2017, at around 5pm local time, a ‘small’ amount of ash and smoke erupted from Mount Agung in Bali. Smoke and ash rose around 700m into the air in the north of Bali, this was not the huge, molten spew that many expected from the volcano.
At 3am local time Sunday 26th November 2017, the aviation ‘Red Warning’ was issued to airlines because of the danger of the volcanic ash. Volcanic Ash can damage airplane engines and therefore, an ash cloud poses as a big hazard and airlines will often cancel flights to avoid any danger.
There has been a significant amount of Ash Rain in the areas surrounding Moung Agung. The last recorded eruption of Mount Agung, was in 1963 and devastatingly claimed the lives of at least 1,100 people.
Currently the crater of Mount Agung is filling up with lava. It is classed as an effusive, magmatic eruption and therefore, it is predicted that once the crater is full, lava will spill down the sides and on to the ground below. Lava is not expected to explode from the volcano.
In the last 24hours many flights have been disrupted with many cancelations and the aviation risk has been declared ‘red’. However, today (Sunday November 26, 2017) many flights have resumed. The Ngurai Rai International Airport in Bali has been preparing for this possible eruption for more than 2 months now and have been keeping those affected by cancelled/delayed flights as comfortable as possible. We strongly advise that if you are due to fly in or out of Bali soon, that you keep a very close eye on your flight schedule. It really depends on the direction of the wind and the strength of a volcanic eruption on how it affects aviation. Balis airport remains open and is operating, with flights coming and going still at this time.
The risks for people that live close to the volcano is severe. Nobody should be within a 6 mile radius of the volcano crater and within 7.5 miles of the North, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. All of the surrounding areas of the volcano should be avoided. However, in tourist areas such as Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, Ubud etc, people are continuing as normal however, if the area you are in has been affected by Ash Rain, please adhere to the safety advice.
The wind can move ash clouds thousands of kilometers in different directions and they can cover large areas, causing lots of damage and killing crops.
The ash cloud could potentially close down the airport and depending on the size of the cloud, nearby airports will possibly also be affected such as Lombok Airport on Lombok Island. A cloud of this nature can also be very dangerous for humans because it consists of poisonous gases that can cause respiratory problems. This can be especially dangerous if you suffer with asthma or other respiratory problems already.
Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar is the only airport in Bali. If it closes and you are unable to leave from there, then you can check airports on other islands accessible by boat from Bali such as the airports in Java or Lombok.
If you need to leave the country because of your visa and the airport is closed, then there is not a lot that you can do other than to sit it out. Alternatively, you could try to leave from another airport on another island. It is really important to check on your visa status now and try to get this resolved immediately.
If you are close to the end of your visa and can extend it then start this process as soon as possible. If you happen to overstay because of airport closures, then make sure that you keep a copy of your original travel itinerary as this demonstrates that you had plans to leave and that it is through no fault of your own. This may waiver any fines that you could possibly incur as a result of overstaying. The normal charge for over stays is IDR 300,000 per day.
We recommend that you get yourself a face mask and keep all of your skin covered. It is also advisable to wear glasses or goggles and be especially careful if you wear contact lenses. Tiny ash particles can really irritate your skin, eyes, nose and throat.
It is safest to stay inside buildings, being outside is only going to expose you to the dangerous gases. Seal as much of the building as possible, close all doors and windows and cover any open areas above or below windows and doors.
Our best advice is to stay as calm as possible during this time and continue to enjoy your holiday. There are many beautiful places not far from Bali that are accessible by boat also, such as the Gili Islands.
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