75,000 flee rumbling volcano

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/9/26 22:43:40

Government, NGOs dispatch face masks, food aid to Bali


Vehicles laden with food, facemasks and bedding have been sent to help more than 75,000 people who have fled a volcano on the tourist island of Bali, as the Indonesian president flew in to visit crowded aid centers.

Mount Agung, 75 kilometers from the resort hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August and threatening to erupt for the first time since 1963 - a potential blow to the country's lucrative tourism industry.

Increasingly frequent tremors show the molten magma is still rising towards the surface, with the mountain entering a "critical phase", said the national disaster mitigation agency.

It said the number fleeing their homes had increased as fears grow that the mountain could blow.

"The local mitigation agency reported that until 12 pm Tuesday, the number has reached 75,673 people, spread across 377 evacuation centers in nine districts," said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Around 62,000 people lived in the danger zone before the evacuations, according to the agency, but residents just outside the area have also left as a precaution.

"The number is expected to continue to rise," Nugroho said.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said there has been an increase in volcanic tremors, with a total of 564 recorded Monday.

Evacuees have packed into temporary shelters or moved in with relatives. Some 2,000 cows have also been evacuated from the flanks of the volcano.

Speaking in Klungkung district, President Joko Widodo told evacuees the government would do its best to reduce economic losses incurred during the evacuation.

"It is not easy to handle a volcanic eruption because there is no certainty when it's going to happen or if it's going to happen at all," he said.

"I ask everybody near Gunung Agung to listen to the officials, the governor and the mayor's instruction so we can all minimize the impact of this volcano."

Balinese residents, international NGOs and the central government have begun organizing aid.

Vehicles loaded with noodles, mineral water and blankets have been sent to the evacuation centers while residents around the island have been collecting donations.

Bali's "sister village" program and tradition of communal assistance means evacuees have been able to stay in villages outside the danger zone.



Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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