The eruption at Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali is continuing to grow in intensity, the country’s disaster management agency says, warning that a larger eruption may occur at any time. The alert has been raised to the highest level.
A statement from Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the eruption, which began on Saturday, had changed on late Sunday from a phreatic eruption – in which magma heats water – to a magmatic eruption.
The agency said explosive eruptions have been observed and the plume of ash and steam is now reaching up to 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) above the crater. “This indicates the possibility that a larger eruption is imminent,” it said.
As a result, the alert status for surrounding areas has been raised to the highest level. People living in a radius of 8 to 10 kilometers (5 to 6.2 miles) have been urged to evacuate immediately in a calm and orderly manner.
The current activity began with a small eruption on Tuesday, which was followed by a larger eruption on Saturday that has continued to grow larger. It had already prompted a code red for aviation, forcing the closure of Lombok airport.
The region around Mount Agung has been on alert since late September when more than 140,000 people were told to evacuate over fears of an imminent eruption. No eruption took place and those evacuated were later allowed to return to their homes.
Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world and sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin. Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, killing nearly 1,600 people in one of Indonesia’s most devastating eruptions.
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