The volcano Mount Agung on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali has erupted for a second time in a week and has spewed volcanic ash thousands of feet into the sky.

Mount Agung sits on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ where tectonic plates collide beneath the surface unleashing magma from deep within the planet to create volcanoes.

Bali’s Governor has declared a state of emergency and imposed a four mile exclusion zone around the volcano whose most deadly eruption cost 1500 lives in 1963.

All locals and travellers within the exclusion zone have been ordered to leave and the Indonesian Government has issued a warning to airlines over fears that ash from the volcano could damage jet engines.

There has already been severe disruption to travel with the Indonesian national airline and Australian giant Qantas both cancelling flights in and out of Bali International Airport which is near to the island’s capital Denpasar. That airport is remaining open and airlines are devising ways of avoiding the ash clouds.


It is safe to be on the island as long as visitors stay outside the exclusion zone. The national Disaster Mitigation Agency of Indonesia stated: “Tourism in Bali is still safe, except in the danger (zone) around Mount Agung.”

The problem is getting to Bali, as airlines have begun to cancel flights to and from the island which is dependent on tourism for its economic income – last year more than five million people visited Bali, more than the entire population of the island.

If you are planning a trip to Bali the best advice is to check with your airline and tour operator. Further disruption is likely.

The island lost at least £83m in tourism and productivity during the major evacuation which took place in September when 140,000 people were forced to flee after Mount Agung began to show signs of a possible eruption. Hundreds of small earthquakes were recorded Mount Agung with volcanic activity not ceasing until 29 October.

Some of the people made homeless had only just returned to their houses when the volcano began to erupt last week. More than 20,000 people are homeless and in refugee camps.

The nearest major tourist haunts are about 40 miles from the volcano which stand almost 10,000ft high – the highest point on Bali.

The ash cloud is also drifting eastwards away from Bali to the island of Lombok where the international airport has been closed.


On 21 November, a small eruption took place when super-heated magma is presumed to have come into contact with water under the ground.

This so-called phreatic eruption sent an ash cloud some 12,000 feet into the sky, and led to the evacuation of some 29,000 residents. Early last Saturday magma started to pour out of the volcano — magma is known as lava when it gets above the surface.

The magmatic eruption spewed ash into the sky from where it later dropped onto nearby villages, coating everything with a fine layer of ash.

Photographs showed police and the military handing out masks to people in the vicinity.

The sky above the volcano has also started to glow a red-orange colour, a sure indication that magma as reached the surface of the deep crater of Mount Agung.


The people of Indonesia are used to the threat of volcanoes — the country has 127 active volcanoes, including Mount Merapi on the island of Java which has erupted 80 times since it was first recorded in 1548.

The problem for Bali is that things could get a lot worse — the eruptions so far from Mount Agung have been of a lesser calibre than the disastrous blow-out in 1963.

The official Red Warning now in place on Bali means that a much bigger eruption is anticipated. The danger level declared by the Indonesian authorities has not been raised, but most experts feel it is only a matter of time before the volcano suffers a major eruption.

Gede Suantika, an official at the disaster mitigation agency, said: “The activity of Mount Agung has entered the magmatic eruption phase. It is still spewing ash at the moment but we need to monitor and be cautious over the possibility of a strong, explosive eruption.”