For the first time in longer than a century, the Mount Agung volcano in Bali has erupted. Fearing that a major eruption and “risk of disaster” is imminent, the Indonesian authorities raised the state of alert to its highest level, and ordered around 100,000 people near the volcano to evacuate.
The volcano has been spewing ash and dark smoke, up to 3,400 metres (11,150 feet) above the mountain’s summit, making for a sight both breathtaking and terrifying. Social media users captured videos of the formidable summit that you can watch below, though the most stunning footage is a time-lapse video of the volcano, above.
The exclusion zone around the volatile volcano was expanded to 10 km following the eruptions on Saturday, while the Bali airport was closed, and more than 400 flights were cancelled, leaving nearly 60,000 travellers stranded. The island attracts millions of tourists each year who, fortunately, were safe from the eruption as the primary tourist stretch is about 70 kilometres away from the volcano.
The National Board for Disaster Management wrote in a statement on Facebook, “The rays of fire are increasingly observed at night. This indicates the potential for a larger eruption is imminent.” The volcano, they wrote, could be seen emitting “continuous ash puffs”, sometimes accompanied by “explosive eruptions” and “weak booms” that could be heard even 12 km away from the summit.
The volcano, which has been emitting ash with increasing intensity, is now entering the magmatic phase as is apparent from the visible glow, which means there could be an explosive eruption any time. The eruptions could either be large and disastrous, or be relatively minor over time.
However, officials did warn residents to stay away from “lahar”s – dangerous slurries of volcanic debris mixed with water that have been spotted in fields and rivers near the volcano. The flow typically increases in the rain and move rapidly. Watch them in the videos below:
Officials distributed masks to local residents, and warned people of ash rain, which would possibly be the worst (and only) impact of the volcano on regions beyond the exclusion zone.
The last time Mount Agung erupted, in 1963, the impact lasted longer than a year and killed more than 1,000 people.