Travelers banned from hiking as Indonesia’s Bali volcano erupts
Indonesian authorities have prohibited tourists from hiking in the radius of four kilometers from the crater of the Mount Agung volcano, which erupted on Sunday, while residents on the slope of the mountain have been ordered to exercise caution over the flow of lava during heavy downpours, disaster agency official said.
The eruption of Mount Agung triggered rain of volcanic ash covering eight villages and town in the Karang Asem district, but did not lead to evacuation, Ida Bagus Ketut Arimbawa, head of the operational department of the disaster management and mitigation agency in the district told the Xinhua News Agency over the phone.
But the height of column of the volcanic ash spewed could not be found out as the volcano was covered by heavy clouds, the official said.
“Tourists and residents are not allowed to hike the mountain, the activity is only allowed to be undertaken in the area beyond five kilometers from the crater,” said Ketut.
The beautiful Bali tourist resort is the center of the Indonesian tourism industry, nearly 600,000 out of over 1 million foreign tourists coming into Indonesia every month spend their time on Bali island, according to data from the national statistics bureau.
As rain has started pouring down on Bali since November, the start of wet season in Indonesia, Ketut said that officials of the agency had called the people living along Tukadiasyah river whose upstream is in the flank of the Mount Agung volcano to keep alert concerning possible floods carrying huge amount of cold lava and other volcanic materials during heavy downpours.
“For now, lava and several volcanic materials have already flown into the upstream of the river. Rain has poured down frequently, but the heavy downpours, which will sweep lava and volcanic materials downstream, have not occurred so far,” said Ketut.
Mount Agung, situated about 70 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, has weathered a series of eruptions since September 2017, shooting a column of volcanic ash into the sky with chunks of lava tumbling down its slope, according to the country’s volcanology agency.
The eruption has harmed aviation and forced more than 144,000 people to flee home, the disaster agency said.
In its last eruption in 1963, more than 1,100 people were killed.
The Mount Agung volcano is one of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, a vast archipelagic nation home to over 17,500 islands.