KARANGASEM, Indonesia – Lava has filled up one-third of the crater of Agung volcano in the east of Indonesia’s Bali Island as the area remains on maximum alert Saturday over a possible bigger eruption.
“High-frequency earthquakes continue to occur and show that the volcano is very active and capable of pressurization to cause the ongoing eruptions,” the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said in a statement on Saturday.
The director of information for the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said that the crater has been spewing ash up to a height of 2,000 meters (around 6,562 feet).
Nugroho said that the gases and ash have affected an area of up to five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the crater.
There is a 10-km safety radius around the 3,031-meter-high volcano.
There are more than 48,000 people registered in emergency shelters, according to official figures, and the authorities have calculated between 90,000 and 100,000 are still living inside the security radius.
Many of those affected have sought shelter in the houses of relatives and friends, while thousands have refused to leave the danger zone due to economic or spiritual reasons.
The Ngurah Rai international airport has resumed normal operation, after the shutdown from Monday to Wednesday afternoon due to the cloud of smoke, which affected more than 100,000 passengers.
The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre warned Saturday of the possibility of the cloud of ash from the volcano affecting visibility at the Ngurah Rai airport.
Volcanologists have corrected their assertion about the date of earlier explosion from Nov. 25 to Nov. 21.
Mount Agung is erupting for the first time since 1963, when the ejection of magma lasted almost a year and caused more than 1,100 deaths.
Bali is the main tourist destination in Indonesia, with an annual influx of around 5.4 million foreign tourists, according to official data.
Located in the east of the island, in the district of Karangasem, Mount Agung is far from most tourist attractions.
The Indonesian archipelago sits within the so-called “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that is shaken by thousands of tremors every year, mostly of small magnitude.