Bali volcano spewing fumes with more vigour

Mount Agung a volcano which had its alert status raised to the highest level last week is seen as farmers tend their crops near Amed on the resort island of Bali Indonesia

They are staying in almost 500 makeshift shelters in nine districts and some have crossed the Lombok Strait to take refuge in the neighbouring island of Lombok.

Mount Agung, 75km from the resort hub of Kuta, has been shaking since last month and threatening to erupt for the first time since 1963 - a potential blow to the island's lucrative tourism industry.

"In general the evacuation is going well, the logistics supply is sufficient for the evacuees' needs", Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the agency spokesman, said Thursday.

A 12-km radius exclusion zone was set up around the volcano and the alert level for possible eruption was cranked up to the maximum 4 on September 22. The increase in tremors suggests an eruption is "imminent", she said.

This week Indonesia's national disaster agency has sent face masks, mattresses, blankets and tents for evacuees, who have also been provided with food. The area of this hot area has been observed to have enlarged over the past week, including a new fracture in the middle of the crater where the emission of white smoke (steam) also continues.

"Tourists having sex on the volcano have angered the gods", said a priest in the village of Muntig, which sits inside the volcano excavation zone.




"The danger line on the map is not clearly visible on the field, hence many people are afraid", he said.

The island of Ambae in Vanuatu and an area of Bali in Indonesia have been evacuated in preparation for two active volcanoes that are expected to erupt at any moment. Indonesian authorities declared a state of emergency.

"However, the probability may change", said the centre's head volcanologist Kasbani, who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

Ambae island's 11,000 residents have been evacuated by boat and helicopter.

Some tourists, however, were having second thoughts about their holiday plans after several countries, including Singapore and Australia, issued travel advisories warning of the risk from the volcano. The last time it erupted in 1963, almost 2,000 people were killed.

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