Travel alert on possible eruption of Bali volcano

The alert status for Mount Agung has been raised to its highest level.
The alert status for Mount Agung has been raised to its highest level.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

DENPASAR • Singaporeans have been advised to avoid travelling to Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali after the alert status for the volcano was raised to its highest level, meaning there was an increased possibility it would erupt.

In a travel advisory issued yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Singaporeans currently in Bali are advised to take all necessary precautions for their personal safety, monitor the local news closely and heed the instructions of the local authorities, such as being ready to evacuate at short notice.

They should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance, and be familiar with the terms and coverage, it added.

The ministry also advised Singaporeans in Bali to stay in touch with their family and friends.

On Friday, the Indonesian authorities warned tourists and residents to avoid camping or hiking within a 9km radius of the crater as seismic tremors rattled some areas and smoke rose above one of the world's most popular tourist spots, reported Reuters.

"Volcanic activity remains high and there are indications of magma rising to the surface and causing tremors," said Mr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Management Agency on Friday.

"There should be zero public activity within the specified radius in case there is an eruption," Mr Nugroho said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Singaporeans currently in Bali are advised to take all necessary precautions for their personal safety, monitor the local news closely and heed the instructions of the local authorities.

Nearly 10,000 people from surrounding villages within a 12km radius have been evacuated so far and that number is expected to rise, officials said.

Others packed their belongings into lorries for evacuation, while more stopped to watch as clouds of white smoke rose from the crater, which is around 3,000m above sea level.

The travel advisory also warned that volcanic eruptions could result in ash clouds that could severely disrupt air travel.

But flights at Bali's international airport in Denpasar were operating as normal yesterday and there was little disruption to tourism operators across the rest of the island, the authorities said.

As of yesterday evening, Singapore Airlines flights to and from Denpasar were continuing to operate as scheduled, but the airline said on its website it is closely monitoring the situation with regard to the potential eruption of Mount Agung.

According to Reuters, Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country. A series of eruptions on Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Travel alert on possible eruption of Bali volcano'. Print Edition | Subscribe