Bali volcano has 'quite big' chance of eruption; 120000 flee

Bali volcano has 'quite big' chance of eruption; 120000 flee

Tremors, and the emission of steam and smoke, have been noted at the 9,444-foot mountain, which is one of over 100 volcanoes in Indonesia.

More than 120,000 people have fled the area around Bali's highest volcano amid fears it could erupt imminently.

He said more than 560 volcanic earthquakes were recorded on Monday, majority shallow.

The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing over 1,000 people.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nguroho said the chances of an eruption are "quite big", although experts can't predict when with certainty.

Heather Handley, the earth sciences professor from Sydney's Macuquarie University, said that the increased tremors suggest that an eruption is "imminent".

Indonesian officials say tourists are in no danger from Mount Agung, and there are ample attractions outside of the danger zone surrounding the volcano.

The Ministry of Transportation of Indonesia also prepared a contingency plan that may divert airline operations to Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali to airports in Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Surabaya and Lombok.

More than 122,000 people have already fled their homes in fear, many of them from within a 12km exclusion zone, since the Indonesian authorities issued the highest possible alert warning last week.

"Instrumentally, we have never recorded such high energy or seismicity from Mount Agung", said seismologist Devy Kamil Syahbana. "We predict we still need shelters for around 10,000 cattle", Volcano Emergency Readiness Team head Syamsul Ma'arif, who is also the ministry's Veterinary Public Health director, said on Monday. It remained active for about a year, producing deadly clouds of hot ash, gases and rock fragments that traveled at great speeds down the mountain. Lava traveled 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) and ash reached Jakarta, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) away.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and has 127 active volcanoes - more than any other country.

One farmer said he was anxious that lava flows could destroy his house and farm.