Science

Jokowi to visit Mount Agung evacuees in Klungkung

Jokowi to visit Mount Agung evacuees in Klungkung

Strong volcanic tremors and billowing white smoke seen over the crater have raised alarm in recent days, prompting the evacuation of more than 50,000 people from villages dotting the paddy fields at the base of the forested slopes of Mount Agung.

"We need to pay attention because these kinds of earthquakes indicate the movement of magma and increase the probability of an eruption".

They have sought refuge in government buildings, sports halls and in tents on open fields, as well as with relatives.

President Joko Widodo is scheduled to visit the evacuees at several camps on Tuesday.

Indonesian national disaster management agency BNPB said on Monday (Sept 25) that the volcano has reached a "critical stage" with about 500 tremors - caused by magma rising closer to the surface - recorded a day, compared with just two in previous weeks. "Although alert level 4 (the maximum) has been declared since September 22, there is no guarantee that the volcano will erupt", an official from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.

Here's what we know about the volcano.

More than 1,000 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963. "The earthquakes are happening less frequently but the magnitude is getting stronger", Gede Suantika, a senior volcanologist at the agency told AFP.

"This number of seismicity is an unprecedented seismic observation at Agung volcano ever recorded by our seismic networks", the Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation said in a statement. Tourists visiting Bali should remain vigilant about the situation as a possible eruption probably will affect flight availability to and from Bali's airport due to ash plumes.

Trekking tours on the mountain have been cancelled by operators but officials have otherwise been at pains to assure tourists the island is safe.

The reminder follows a warning issued by local authorities following the possibility of a volcanic eruption.

"Mount Agung is one of many similar volcanoes in Indonesia and the ring of fire surrounding the Pacific and eastern Indian oceans", he wrote.