KARANGASEM: Nearly 50,000 people have evacuated their homes for fear of an imminent volcanic eruption on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, disaster officials said Monday, reports AFP.
Mount Agung, 75 kilometres (47 miles) from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been shaking since August and threatening to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years.
The disaster mitigation agency said 48,540 people had fled and the number was expected to rise because more than 60,000 people lived in the danger zone. “There are still people who don’t want to be evacuated,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, an agency spokesman, told a press conference.
“The reason is firstly, the mountain hasn’t erupted yet. Secondly, they are worried about their livestock.”
Officials announced the highest possible alert level on Friday following the increasing volcanic activity, and told people to stay at least nine kilometres (5.6 miles) from the crater.
Trekking tours on the mountain have been banned but officials have otherwise been at pains to assure tourists the island is safe.
Dozens of anxious visitors, worried their vacation plans may be ruined, have taken to social media to ask for updates.
Others have adopted a more philosophical view, determined not to let the warning disrupt their holiday.
“Being in Bali of course there’s a volcanic mountain here, earthquakes and other risks,” Susan, who was visiting the town of Ubud from the United States, told AFP. “You just have to deal with it.”
But German national Frederic Kramer, 33, said he was worried about a possible eruption and wanted to help by providing food to those affected.
Evacuees have packed into temporary shelters or moved in with relatives. Some 2,000 cows have been also moved from the flanks of the volcano.
Nengah Satiya left home with his wife three days ago but said he had been returning to the danger zone to tend to his pigs and chickens.
“There are many livestock in our village but nobody is taking care of them,” he told AFP at an evacuation centre. “We take turns going back to feed them.”