Bali volcano latest update: Volcano warning downgraded as Mount Agung activity calms

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Updated: Nov 2, 2017

THE ALERT status of Bali’s highest volcano Mount Agung has been lowered after more than a month of intense seismic activity, though experts have warned that an eruption could still occur at any time.

Mount Agung’s alert status was downgraded from level four to level three on Sunday, after seismic activity underneath the volcano showed signs of abating.

Bali volcano update: Mount Agung has settled down over the past week
Bali volcano update: Mount Agung has settled down over the past week

However, the head of Bali’s Volcanology Centre (PVMBG) has warned that the threat of an eruption has not passed.

“The volcanic activities have not completely calmed down and there is still a potential for an eruption,” he said.

Translating a PVMBG statement, Dr Janine Krippner, who has been monitoring the Bali volcano closely for weeks, explained that the lower threat level “does not mean the risk is gone”.

She tweeted: “The seismic activity, steam activity in the crater, and thermal signatures seen in satellite data have all decreased.

“These potential hazards remain: pyroclastic flows, lahars, lava flows, ashfall.

“With the reduced activity and threat, the danger zone has been reduced to a 6 to 7.5 km radius. This will continue to be evaluated.

“If an eruption does occur, ashfall can extend beyond the hazard zone. If an eruption occurs and heavy rainfall, lahars may also occur.”

The reduced alert status allows thousands of Balinese refugees to return home after more than a month of living in evacuation centres on the island.

The PVMBG has authorised anyone living further than six kilometres (3.7 miles) from Agung’s crater to return to their villages.

About 180,000 people abandoned their homes to escape the threat of Mount Agung when the warning was raised to it maximum level on September 22.

Of this number, up to 150,000 travelled to one of the makeshift evacuation centres, with the remaining 30,000 staying with friends or family on the island.

Despite the lower alert level, many evacuees have decided to stay in the camps.

Bali volcano update: Graph showing seismic activity under Mount Agung
Bali volcano update: Graph showing seismic activity under Mount Agung

Evacuees return to Mount Agung danger zone for festival of Galungan

CROWDS of Bali volcano refugees returned to their homes in Mount Agung’s danger zone yesterday to mark the festival of Galungan. The festival of Galungan runs between November 1 and 11 and celebrates a time when ancestral spirits return to walk the Earth. The 10-day Hindu festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and is one of the most sacred periods in the Balinese calendar.

Hundreds of Bali residents are thought to have returned home to mark the start of the festival, despite the looming threat of a Mount Agung eruption.

Made Dwi, a local of the Besakih village told Antara News: “Prayers are being held at the family temple, the village temple, and other various temples.”

“Some people have returned home and stay in each other’s homes, but there are still many in the refugee camps because their neighbourhoods are still in disaster prone spots.”

Six villages and Pura Besakih, the largest and holiest temple in Bali, lie within the danger zone but many residents ventured back to make festival preparations.

Some 250 locals hiked up the side of Mount Agung on Thursday to take part in prayer ceremonies.

Bali volcano update: People climbing Mount Agung to take part in prayer ceremonies
Bali volcano update: People climbing Mount Agung to take part in prayer ceremonies
Bali volcano update: People have entered Agung's danger zone for Galungan
Bali volcano update: People have entered Agung's danger zone for Galungan

“The volcanic activities have not completely calmed down and there is still a potential for an eruption,” he said.

Bali’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has assured worried refugees that they will not be made to leave the camps if their village is just outside the danger zone.

“We did not force them to return home and they can stay at the refugee camp for as long as they want,” Putu Widada, head of the local BPBD said.

Source: express.co.uk

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November 9, 2017 |

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