Balinese believe that Mt Agung is a replica of Mt Meru, the central axis of the universe. A large volcanic eruption in Bali appears imminent with the Bureau of Meteorology warning the threat of Mount Agung erupting is ‘high’. The Balinese volcano, the highest point on the holiday island, has grown increasingly restless, with the alert system raised to its highest level, as the nature of the eruptions has shifted from phreatic, or steam-based, to magmatic. Foreboding clouds of ash have consistently been seeping out of the volcano, a wary reminder of its threat to the Balinese living on the island. About 100,000 people in 22 villages within a six-mile ‘red zone’ around the volcano have been told to leave immediately. More than 55,000 people are forced to live in temporary shelters such as sports halls, temples and tent camps, until the rising magma either subsides or, more dangerously, erupts. Flights in and out of Bali have been both interrupted and cancelled, due to the heavy smoke and potential imminent eruption. Mount Agung’s crater is filling, and volcanologists warn that the main hazards of a large eruption are hot and fast-moving avalanches of rocks, dust and gas that cannot be outrun, known as pyroclastic flows, as well as mudflows and ashfall.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: zReportage: “RED ZONE – Bali Volcano Rumbles”. Photography by © Josh Edelson, Donal Husni, Muhammad Fauzy.