Bali evac­u­a­tion cen­tres fill as more flee vol­cano

Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD - Karangasem, Bali

NEARLY 135,000 peo­ple on the In­done­sian is­land of Bali have fled their homes and taken shel­ter in makeshift evac­u­a­tion cen­tres after warn­ings the Mount Agung vol­cano could erupt at any time.

Spew­ing white smoke and send­ing tremors through the area, Mount Agung’s alert sta­tus was raised to the high­est level last week. Since then, tens of thou­sands of vil­lagers have aban­doned their homes be­neath the men­ac­ing vol­cano.

The na­tional dis­as­ter man­age­ment agency said many peo­ple have fled be­cause they are un­sure of their prox­im­ity to a 12km ex­clu­sion zone im- posed around the crater.

Evac­uees are be­ing housed in tents, school gyms and gov­ern­ment build­ings in neigh­bour­ing vil­lages.

While there are plen­ti­ful stocks of food, wa­ter, medicines and other sup­plies, evac­uees fear they are in for a long wait that could dis­rupt their liveli­hoods.

Of­fi­cials also noted there are around 30,000 cat­tle within the dan­ger zone around the vol­cano, and ef­forts are be­ing made to move the live­stock as it is an im­por­tant source of in­come for many res­i­dents.

More than 1000 peo­ple were killed the last time Mount Agung erupted, in 1963. Bali had nearly five mil­lion vis­i­tors last year, mainly from Aus­tralia, China and Ja­pan.

Some tourists, how­ever, were hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about their hol­i­day plans after Sin­ga­pore and Aus­tralia is­sued travel ad­vi­sories warn­ing of the risk from the vol­cano.

Bali’s tourism depart­ment on Thurs­day is­sued a let­ter re­as­sur­ing trav­ellers, and not­ing that flights were op­er­at­ing nor­mally.

“The is­land is safe ex­cept for ar­eas around Mount Agung. We urge tourists to con­tinue vis­it­ing,” the let­ter said. REUTERS

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