natural disasters

‘Matter of hours’ before Bali volcano erupts, says Indonesian government

The area is experiencing unprecedented levels of seismic activity, the country’s volcanology centre said.

It could be just a “matter of hours” before Mount Agung in Bali erupts, as the area is experiencing unprecedented levels of seismic activity, Indonesia’s volcanology centre said, according to The Guardian.

More than 75,000 people were evacuated over the past few days as Agung has experienced hundreds of internal volcanic earthquakes. Data showed that Mount Agung had 844 volcanic earthquakes on Monday and around 400 by midday on Tuesday, Devy Kamil Syahbana, a seismologist from Indonesia’s centre for volcanology and geological hazard mitigation, said.

“We need to pay attention because these kinds of earthquakes indicate the movement of magma and increase the probability of an eruption,” he warned. According to the seismologist, the centre has never recorded such high energy from Mount Agung.

There have been tremors around the mountain since August, as the volcano on the tourist island threatens to erupt for the first time in 50 years. The last time it erupted in 1963, more than 1,000 people were killed.

Evacuation on, travel advisories issued

Indonesian authorities arranged makeshift shelters in town halls and school gymnasiums and set up tents in villages around the volcano to house thousands of evacuees. Vehicles loaded with noodles, mineral water and blankets have been sent to the evacuation centres, and residents around the island have been collecting donations, AFP reported.

Several countries, including Australia, Singapore and the United States, issued travel advisories alerting holidaymakers to the risk, Reuters reported.

Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes along the Pacific Ring of Fire – more than any other country in the world.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.