Mount Agung Update

Om Swastiastu …

Mt. Agung continues to rumble but has yet to erupt. White smoke at a height of 1,500 meters was seen over Mount Agung on October 7, 2017.

More than 100,000 have evacuated their villages with government officials unhappy that perhaps as many as half the evacuees, acting out of fear and propelled by rumors, have fled homes located in areas considered safe from an eruption. The Governor is urging those coming from safe areas to leave the temporary camps and return to their homes or, at least, stay at a local hotel. Meanwhile, inside the “danger zone” Bali’s sacred Besakih Temple and the surrounding community have gone dark, abandoned, at least temporarily, until Mount Agung’s alert level is lowered.

The Ministry of Tourism has established a Hospitality Task Force to keep the public reliably informed on all developments related to Mt. Agung. In this connection, Bali’s Governor wants those spreading hoaxes and false news about Mount Agung charged with a crime and brought to justice.

In his efforts to keep the public reliably informed, Governor Pastika has met with foreign legations in Bali and asked them to keep their home constituencies informed that Bali is still safe for holidaymakers.

The Minister of Tourism visited Bali last week to review contingency planning and meet with Bali Hospitality Task Force’s Media Center. Minister Yahya estimates that cancellations of groups to Bali may be running between 20%-30%.

Hotel News: Bali Hotel operators confirm cancellations connected to Mount Agung’s status are taking place. Meanwhile, Bali Hotels join forces to remove 1,500 kilograms of trash from beaches around Bali. And, a Balinese Woman has been named as general manager of the Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in Ubud.

Not all news this week is connected to the Mount Agung volcano. The teen-Age Son of Bali Lawmaker Appealing 4-year Prison Sentence in Murder of Army Cadet. The death of a man in North Bali last week is blamed on rabies. And, Indonesian celebrity and the Bali Zoo take flak for a magazine shoot using a captive orangutan.


Mount Agung Bali

Om Swastiastu …

Now 10 full days after the alert level on Bali’s volcanic Mount Agung was increased to the highest level “IV” – the volcano continues to rumble but has yet to actually erupt. The number of people who have evacuated their homes is now estimated to have surpassed 140,000 – a number officials claim is driven by fear, with perhaps half of that number fleeing homes that are, in fact, considered well out of the “danger zone” should Mt. Agung erupt.

News related to Mt. Agung dominates this week’s update. We have the latest summary update from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Meanwhile, scientist say magma that has risen from a depth of 100-kilometers below the crater to now just two-kilometers below the peak, is now at an impasse, momentary or otherwise, as its tries to break through the hardened crater floor. Satellites focused on the crater have detected a large fissure and a hotspot, both of which are now being monitored closely by scientists.

Meanwhile, the Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism insists that tourism to Bali remains unaffected by the warning connected to Mt. Agung. Governor Pastika pleads for moderation in reporting on the volcano, saying that in the event of an eruption, damage would be limited to areas immediately surrounding the mountain and far removed from the densely populated parts of Bali. Road officials have surveyed roads and bridges that could be affected by any eventual explosion of Mt. Agung.

While all eyes point to Mt. Agung, we have reports on the installation of 5 early warning sirens installed on the mountain’s slopes. The TelkomGroup has plans well in hand to keep telecommunications operating in the areas surrounding Mt. Agung in any eventuality. Banks in Karangasem are working with customer who may be economically disadvantaged by the alert warnings on Mt Agung. And, Airbnb implements an “Open House” plan for people who want to provide free, temporary housing to those displaced by developments on Mt. Agung.

Bali is witnessing an unparalleled response to the hardship of those living near Mr. Agung. Balinese are helping feed and clothe the homeless, save abandoned animals, and provide housing to fellow islanders. The Anand Ashram Foundation is providing anti-stress yoga training to evacuees. And, the villagers of Tejakula in Buleleng have welcomed those seeking refuge from the mountain with dances and music.

Bali’s crime beat last week saw the case files for those arrested in the Akasaka Discotheque drug bust in June handed to prosecutors. A South African woman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for trying to smuggle more than a kilogram of drugs via Bali’s airport.

Official in Klungkung have postponed indefinitely the Nusa Penida Festival-IV set to start on October 5th until the Mt. Agung crisis passes.

A Balinese Ceremony of remembrance for Australian humanitarian John Fawcett will take place in Bali on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.