Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Indonesia urges countries to rescind travel advisory to Bali

Mount Agung volcano is seen from Amed in Karangasem Regency, Bali, Indonesia on Dec 4, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside)
JAKARTA: Indonesia has urged countries warning its citizens not to travel to Bali due to Mount Agung's volcanic activity to rescind their travel advisories.

Indonesia's National Disaster Management Authority or BNPB on Monday (Dec 5) said that Bali is still safe to visit, even though further eruptions in Mount Agung remain unpredictable.

“Based on the scientific data that we have, we urge countries which have issued warnings, informing its citizens not to travel to Bali, to rescind such travel advisories," said BNPB's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho during a press conference.

"What is important is for tourists not to be inside the 10km radius within the danger zone."

On Monday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a travel advisory telling Singaporeans to defer travel plans to Bali until the situation improves.

In the statement, an MFA spokesperson said volcanic ash from eruptions could result in further airport closures and disruption of air travel at short notice.

Several airlines have also suspended flights to and from Bali even though the Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) lowered its alert level from Red to Orange, meaning that volcanic eruption is underway with no or minor ash emissions.

A total of 56 domestic and international scheduled flights have cancelled flights to and from Bali.

"This is the prerogative of the airlines, even though the airport authorities in Ngurah Rai (Bali) and Lombok have said conditions are normal, but it's the airlines that decide whether to fly or not," said Dr Sutopo.

Dr Sutopo said that currently, Mount Agung is visually calm, and there have not been any magmatic eruptions.

However, there are still frequent tremors, and there are 20 million cubic metres of lava filling a third of the volcano's crater.

He added that there are two possible explanations for Mount Agung's present condition.

The first explanation is that the volcano may be asleep. Magma which has risen up to the surface has slowed down because of energy lost during the eruptions last week.

"The second is that the magma pipe is stuck, and the magma fluid which is moving to the surface is obstructed by lava which has hardened," said Dr Sutopo.

He added that the second scenario may cause a catastrophic eruption like what happened in 1963 which killed more than 1,000 people.


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