World Bulletin / News Desk
The chances of a volcanic eruption on the island of Bali is growing daily, the head of Indonesia’s volcanic threat center said Monday.
Seismic activity below Mount Agung has been growing over recent weeks, with hundreds of tremors every day. Over the weekend, a plume of smoke has been seen rising from the crater.
“The potential of an eruption is high, therefore the public needs to anticipate disaster prone areas to avoid casualties,” Kasbani, the head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, told Anadolu Agency.
The volcano, situated just a few dozen kilometres (miles) from beaches popular with foreign tourists, last erupted in 1963, when more than 1,100 people were killed.
Nearly 50,000 people have fled the area around the crater and the alert was raised to the highest level on Friday. Local airports remain open although the government has warned aircraft to avoid airspace over Bali.
Authorities have imposed a 12 kilometer (7 mile) exclusion zone around the 3,031-meter (9,944 foot) mountain.
“The potential for an eruption is high and there is no sign of declining [activity],” Kasbani, who, like many Indonesians, uses just one name, said.
He added that magma was continuing to be pushed towards the surface and observers feared a tremor big enough to set off an eruption.
“If a tremor earthquake occurs, the eruption is just waiting for a matter of minutes or hours,” Kasbani said.
Indonesia lies in the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.