Update COVID-19 in Indonesia: 1,298,608 confirmed infections, 35,014 deaths (23 February 2021)
23 February 2021 (closed)
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Rising activity at the Mount Agung volcano on the eastern part of Bali has made local authorities decide to impose a 12-kilometer exclusion zone around the mountain's crater. Reportedly, nearly 35,000 people have been evacuated from this zone. Mount Agung has shown unusual activity for the past two weeks, triggered by a series of small earthquakes below the volcano.
Last week, the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (in Indonesian: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi), raised Mount Agung's alert status to the highest level after detecting a significant increase in seismic activity. Mount Agung, with its peak at 3,142 meters above sea-level, is located on Bali, Indonesia's most famous tourist destination.
Latest analyses, made by the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, indicate that there is a potential for a big eruption in the near future. Despite the threat, live continues as normal in other parts of Bali. For example the Ngurah Rai International Airport is operating as usual, while there have not been reports of disruptions to tourism operators (with the exception of tourism within the 12-kilometer exclusion zone around Mount Agung).
Volcanoes tend to make the surrounding land fertile (hence attracting farmers and communities that seek to improve their livelihoods). The danger, however, is that a sudden eruption jeopardizes the lives of these local communities. When back in 1963 Mount Agung erupted, a total of more than 1,000 people were killed. Fortunately, volcano eruptions take less human lives today (than in the past) due to better volcano observation methods in combination with better organized emergency evacuations.
Being located on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area with a high degree of tectonic activity), Indonesia has to cope with the constant risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.
I wonder whether - like the Merapi eruption in 2010 - there are local residents or communities who simply refuse to leave their houses or farm land in the area around the mountain because they regard this volcanic activity as signs from the gods?