Current Update on Bali Volcano Situation, Mount Agung

NEWS: The Disaster Management agency lowered the alert status for Mount Agung. 

Government officials have officially lowered the alert status from 4 (AWAS) to 3 (SIAGA). A government volcanologist reported that tremors have reduced in number from about 1,000 a day to less than 400. Also, the radius from Agung's crater of the volcano's evacuation zone got reduced from 12 kilometers down to 7.5 kilometers, which brings a significant relief to thousands of villagers, who can now return to their homes. 

Still, the volcano is still active and the new alert level does not indicate that the threat is completely over.

Scientists have warned since 23rd of September, that "an eruption could occur any moment", which lead to the evacuation of thousands of villagers, who lived near the crater. 
After so many weeks of anticipating and preparing for such an event, particularly the villagers who have been evacuated, are very happy that some of them can now return home. "It's extremely hard for them", aid worker Pak Made reported; "they left their homes, farms and also animals behind and need to make a living." 

The situation in the refugee camps is under control but the conditions are not perfect to say the least. Most of the refugees are poor and live from hand to mouth and need to return to their homes; they simply can't afford to sit around and watch their farms and life stock suffer.
Also, Bali's economy in Bali, with the tourism industry as its backbone, has been hit very hard. Some speak of a drop of 30-50% in some areas. 

It seems that President Jokowi's request to reassess the situation has led to the new alert classification. 

Balinese officials were complaining about Fake News and a lot of exaggerated and negative news reports using words like "killer volcano or other catchy headlines": "They put more fear into people than is proportionate to the real threat to visitors - which is in fact very low". But we all know, bad news capture the attention more than good news, or facts for that matter. 

Even though, volcanic eruptions are hard to predict, scientists and tourism officials are somewhat agreeing on the following scenario so far:

  • The lower seismic activity indicate tat an eruption is less likely
  • Based on the data gathered, scientists still believe, an eruption of Mount Agung could happen
  • When, how strong, and even if the volcano will erupt is still uncertain and cannot really be predicted
  • If an eruption would occur, people outside the evacuation zone will be 100% safe (which includes almost all popular tourist areas. For the moment, mainly the area around Tulamben is affected, while Amed is located just outside the evacuation zone) 
  • Is Bali safe? The biggest problem holiday makers could face, is that the airport would be affected and could close, It's not really a matter of safety according to tourism officials. If the DPS airport would have to be closed, hundreds of buses will take tourists to Surabaya, where all Bali flights would be rerouted to.

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