Mount Agung erupts for the first time in five months

Mount Agung on a calm day. Photo: Coconuts Bali
Mount Agung on a calm day. Photo: Coconuts Bali

After a long quiet spell, Bali’s highest peak flared up once again in the early hours of Sunday morning. According to an official report by the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), the eruption lasted just three minutes and eight seconds, which is relatively short compared to the 30-minute-long eruptions recorded over the past year.

Due to mist covering Agung’s summit, the height of the ash column could not be observed, though residents of Amalpura and Bukit Paon noticed a dusting of grey ash over trees and cars, according to Bali Post.

I Wayan Suara, a volunteer secretary for “Pasebaya,” a community of local village leaders focused on Mount Agung mitigation activities, said that as many as 28 villages encountered thin ash rain. “The areas that are exposed to ash rain depends on the direction of the wind. In this case, most of it was carried east from Mount Agung,” he told Nusa Bali.

Thankfully, flights were unaffected by the ash clouds and Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport stayed open.

This is the first time Agung has erupted for five months. Commenting to Nusa Bali, Devy Kamil Syahbana of the PVMBG, explained what might be behind the flare-up.

“This eruption occurred due to a build-up of pressure from the accumulation of volcanic gases. Furthermore, it still has the potential to erupt.”

Despite Agung’s rumblings, the volcano’s alert status remains at Level III, or “standby” status, the second highest of four levels. For the meantime, visitors, climbers and residents are prohibited from trekking to the top of Agung or entering the hazard zone which stretches a four kilometer radius around the peak crater.

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