Thousands in Bali flee ahead of what officials are calling a dramatic increase in seismic activity, signaling an “imminent” eruption.
“I would definitely be following the advice to stay outside the exclusion zone,” Heather Handley, an assistant Earth sciences professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University told The Associated Press.
Mount Agung, located on the eastern side of the island of Bali, last erupted in 1963, spewing an ash cloud up to 12 miles (19.3 km) high, and killing 1,100 people. Anyone within a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) radius is urged to evacuate immediately.
“Our staff are combing the area and urging everyone to evacuate,” said Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at a news conference. “There are some who are staying behind because the volcano hasn’t erupted yet or because of religious beliefs.”
Evacuation centers have been set up in sports centers, village halls, and other structures. Nugroho said that the government is distributing hundreds of thousands of face masks and thousands of mattresses and blankets.
“The biggest challenge is we can’t predict the number of evacuees,” Klungkung district’s disaster manager agency head Putu Widiada told Reuters. “If the number of evacuees exceeds our maximum capacity, we have asked that every public hall in the district be prepared to become evacuation camps.”
Earlier this week, several townships had warning sirens built to notify anyone staying behind. The sirens will notify residents of a confirmed eruption.