In the latest in a long line of wild environmental news, Bali’s Mount Agung volcano is facing an imminent eruption, international volcanologists report, and more than 100,000 Balinese residents have already evacuated their homes as plumes of steam have started to spew from the volcano. Local officials have ordered residents living within a 7-mile radius of the volcano to leave the area.
The eruption would be the volcano’s first in over 50 years. While scientists are not certain of exactly when it will erupt, increased seismic activity has forced widespread evacuations to various shelters around the island until things calm down. Or get much more serious.
The last time Agung erupted was in 1963, and over 1,000 people were killed. The volcano remained active for a year after the initial blast.
In the last few days, since news of a potential eruption broke, nearly 1500 tourists (and some residents) have fled Bali, looking to escape the island. The concern goes beyond just the initial eruption. Nobody knows its duration, how much ash will be released into the atmosphere, how it will affect the agriculture and airline industries, what will happen to the 100,000-plus evacuees…the list goes on.
Fortunately, scientists are able to provide fair warning to Balinese residents. But it's nervous times at the moment for one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and an island the relies on tourism for much of its economy.
As this story develops, we'll be paying close attention.