Mount Agung, the highest mountain on Bali, erupted early morning on Thursday, spewing out a massive column of smoke and ash 2,000 meters high, causing panic among residents praying at a local temple.
The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) maintained the volcano’s alert level at siaga (stay on alert), the third level of the four-tiered alert system. The center also set the danger zone at a 4-kilometer radius from the crater.
The latest eruption occurred at 1:31 a.m. on Thursday, the Mount Agung observatory post reported. A seismograph recorded an eruption amplitude of 25 mm and a duration of 3 minutes and 58 seconds, with a thundering sound that could be heard from the post.
The Mount Agung observatory post is situated about 2 kilometers from the crater in Rendang village, Karangasem regency.
The early morning eruption caused panic among Balinese praying at Besakih Temple, which is located 9 kilometers from the volcano. Many reportedly screamed in panic when they heard rumbling sounds during their visit to the temple for Panca Wali Krama, a major Balinese Hindu ceremony.
The PVMBG warned everyone, both locals and tourists alike, to steer clear of the danger zone where activities are prohibited. A ban on hiking at Mt. Agung has been in effect ever since its volcanic activity increased in 2017.
Local residents living along the rivers at the foot of the volcano have also been warned to watch for possible lava flow that could come on rainy days.
This story has been published at The Jakarta Post on April 4, 2019