BALI • Mount Agung on the resort island of Bali began erupting yesterday evening, less than a month after its alert level was lowered.
The volcano - which has been rumbling since August and which has forced more than 140,000 people to evacuate in September - spewed black smoke at 5.05pm yesterday, said the head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, Mr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
"Residents are advised to remain calm. Do not panic. Stay away from areas within a 6km to 7.5km radius of the volcano," he said on his Twitter account.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre (PVMBG) said in a statement that the height of the smoke exceeded 700m from the peak of the mountain.
"The eruption is still ongoing. Residents should remain calm and follow the PVMBG's recommendations," it said.
As of yesterday afternoon, there were just under 30,000 evacuees staying at 278 shelters, the Indonesian authorities said.
Most of the other evacuees from September had returned home after the volcano's alert level was lowered on Oct 29, from level 4 - the highest danger level - to level 3.
The volcano's alert level was still kept at level 3 yesterday, as the authorities said there had not been any increase in seismic activity.
"Right now, this is not a serious eruption, but of course this can change. Keep an eye on official reports," tweeted New Zealand volcanologist Janine Krippner. She also tweeted that the people on Bali were not panicked.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an Indonesian government press release said a potential danger was heavy ash rain that could spread outside of the danger zone.
"It is expected that all communities living around Mount Agung and on the island of Bali (should) immediately prepare a mask to cover the nose and mouth, and (have) eye protection as an effort to anticipate the potential danger of volcanic ash," a government statement said.
Meanwhile, operations at Bali's international airport are continuing, said the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mount Agung, which is located 75km from the resort hub of Kuta, last erupted in 1963, killing nearly 1,600 people.