AN ACTIVE volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali has erupted for the first time in 50 years, emitting a plume of smoke and ash reaching 700 metres into the air. Authorities have not raised the alert status and there have been no reports of flight disruptions.
Mount Agung, on the eastern reaches of the island, let out the small eruption on Tuesday evening Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Twitter. He also urged people to remain calm, stay away from areas within a 7.5km radius of the volcano, and to follow the instructions of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
Authorities raised the alert status to its highest level in September, prompting more than 130,000 people to evacuate their homes and tourists to reconsider their visit to the island. It was later dropped to one level below the highest, where it remains after Tuesday’s eruption.
A statement from the Bali Tourism Board, entitled “Letting off some steam,” said disaster mitigation officials were on standby at the foothills of the mountains to “advise the public and provide assistance.” It also said people near the exclusion zone have been provided masks to prevent respiratory problems should the volume of volcanic dust increase.
Bali is a popular destination for holidaying Australians. In response to the eruption, Australia left its travel advice unchanged and told citizens to “monitor local media reports, follow the instructions of local authorities, and stay outside the existing exclusion zone”.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned its citizens to be ready to evacuate the island at short notice amid concern of a bigger eruption.
“Singaporeans should defer non-essential travel to the affected areas of the island at this juncture,” the ministry said in a travel notice on Wednesday.
“You should also be ready to evacuate at short notice.”
The statement warned that ash clouds could “severely disrupt air travel,” however, no flights have been cancelled at the time of writing.
The last time Agung erupted was in 1963 when it killed more than 1,000 people and destroyed several villages.