Up to 50,000 residents flee from Bali volcano amid fears

  25 September 2017    Read: 582
Up to 50,000 residents flee from Bali volcano amid fears

Up to 50,000 people have fled the largest volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali, fearing it will erupt at any moment.

A natural disaster has been declared in parts of Bali as authorities imposed an exclusion zone around Mount Agung following increasing volcanic activity on Sunday.

Strong tremors rippled through areas in the eastern part of the one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, packed with Australian families enjoying the school holidays, sparking authorities to order people to leave a 12 kilometre (8 mile) zone around the mountain.

The numbers from disaster officials on Sunday are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise, they say.

It includes people who left voluntarily as well as those told to evacuate from the exclusion zone as increasing tremors rattle the region.

Authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level on Friday following a 'tremendous increase' in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, a senior Cabinet minister, said Sunday that the districts surrounding the volcano 'must be prepared for the worst.'

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised the welcoming response of local communities on Bali to the flood of evacuees.

The agency has sent food and logistical supplies to the area, while also calling for public donations.

Thousands are living in temporary shelters, sport centers, village halls and with relatives or friends. Some return to the danger zone during the day to tend to livestock.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 14 tons of aid has been sent, including tents, blankets, mattresses and portable communications equipment.

Truck driver Wayan Suparta said he and his family left their village 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the mountain several days ago, bringing just clothes and blankets to a temporary camp in Rendang.

The 35-year-old said he sold the family's cow because they don't know when they'll be able to return.

Officials have said there is no current danger to people in other parts of Bali, a popular tourist island famous for its surfing, beaches and elegant Hindu culture.

Hoaxes have proliferated online, with videos of previous eruptions in Indonesia circulated as current events at Mount Agung.

Officials urged the public to remain calm amid false reports and videos circulating online of an eruption.

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