Thousands evacuated as smoke rises from rumbling Bali volcano

Isabelle Gerretsen
Mount Agung Indonesia

Thousands of people have been evacuated from villages near a volcano on Bali amid fears that it could erupt for the first time in over 50 years.

An evacuation order was issued after smoke was seen rising from Mount Agung and tremors shook the surrounding area on Friday (22 September).

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Authorities warned tourists not to camp or hike within four miles (6km) of the volcano and said there should be "zero public activity" in the region "in case there is an eruption."

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

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More than 6,000 people have so far been evacuated and the number is likely to increase.

Some villagers were reluctant to leave. "I'm here with my husband. We need to feed the animals so that's what we're doing first," Wayan Suarda told national television station tvOne.

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Flights to and from Bali's international airport are operating as normal and tourism operators were not experiencing disruption, according to officials.

Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country, as it bridges the 'Pacific Ring of Fire', the meeting point of several tectonic plates which is responsible for 90% of the world's seismic activity, according to the US Geological Survey.

Mount Agung last erupted in 1964, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring hundreds.

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