Bali wants to reorganize evacuees
Bali authorities plan to reorganize evacuees from villages around Mount Agung as the number of displaced villagers exceeds the expected number, despite the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) saying that an eruption is more likely to happen than not.
As of Friday, authorities had recorded 144,389 evacuees taking shelter in 475 spots and camps set up across the province. That is almost twice the number of villagers living in the exclusion zone, which extends 12 kilometers from Mt. Agung.
“Actually, in the disaster map, out of 78 villages in Karangasem, only 27 are within the exclusion zone. There are around 70,000 people living there,” Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said on Friday after a meeting to discuss efforts to prepare for an eruption of the volcano.
“This means that many of the evacuees come from villages that would actually be safe if the volcano erupts.”
Held in Karangasem’s Tanah Ampo, the meeting was also attended by PVMBG head Kasbani, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Willem Rampangilei, Karangasem Regent Ida Ayu Mas Sumantri and some other related officials.
The meeting agreed to call on these evacuees to return to their home, with Pastika assuring that their villages would be safe.
“This is our next task: finding those people that come from safe areas, and asking them to return to their villages,” Pastika said, saying that these people have instead put unnecessary burden on the shelters.
The exclusion zone, which includes Pura Besakih, Bali’s most sacred Hindu temple located on the slopes of the mountain, is based on the last time the volcano erupted in 1963.
Citing some indicators recorded by its monitoring post in Rendang village, including the high number of volcanic earthquakes, PVMBG head Kasbani said the probability of an eruption was higher than the probability of no eruption.
But the probability may change at any time, and the PVMBG has said it cannot determine the time and size of any future eruption.
“However, we will issue warnings when the conditions change and an eruption is more certain,” Kasbani said.
Kasbani declared that it was still safe to travel to Bali, although visitors should not enter the restricted areas near the volcano.
Meanwhile, at least 164 people, or 60 families, from Karangasem regency in Bali have entered Lombok Island in neighboring West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) to stay in the houses of their respective relatives in Mataram and West Lombok, according to NTB Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Mohammad Rum.
Divine intervention: Muslims recite du’a (personal supplications) at a mosque in Gelgel village, Klungkung, Bali, on Friday to pray for safety amid increasing seismic activity at Mount Agung.