Some Balinese priests have trekked to the top of Bali’s rumbling Mount Agung to pray against a volcanic eruption and check out the situation for themselves.
Pictures and video of Jro Mangku Kari and his nephew, Wayan Ada, alias Mangku Mokoh, on top of a smoking volcano have gone viral over the weekend since they hiked to Mount Agung’s crater on Friday.
While Mokoh wrote on his Facebook page that he wanted to check if Agung really was going to erupt, Kari told reporters the goal of the hike was to conduct a prayer on the top.
“My goal was to pray for people’s safety and that they be protected from harm,” VIVA News quoted Kari as saying.
According to the Kari, the trek to the crater took four hours. From the top, the man said he could see a hole in the crater.
Volcanologists told reporters on Friday that a fissure vent had been observed at the crater, an indication that the volcano could erupt soon.
The priest also said that his group wasn’t alone at the top: two other people had hiked up before them and they spotted some monkeys.
Villagers had reported seeing monkeys and snakes coming down the mountain as far back as Aug. 22, but based on the priest’s account, not all animals seemed to have fled the volcano.
“We still saw animals. There were groups of monkeys and the trees were still green,” he said.
Since Sept. 22, Mt. Agung, which is 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been at the highest alert status for an eruption. Over 144,000 people had evacuated from around the volcano, but those outside of the immediate danger zone—of nine kilometers from the volcano’s crater—were told to go home on Saturday.