World

Thousands flee as eruption fears mount in Bali

KARANGASEM, INDONESIA Vehicles laden with food, masks and bedding have been dispatched to help more than 57,000 people who have fled a volcano in Bali as rising magma and increased tremors fuel fears of an imminent eruption.

Mount Agung, about 75km from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August, threatening to erupt for the first time since 1963.

"The chance that an eruption will happen is quite big. But it cannot be predicted when it will happen," Mr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency, said.

CRITICAL PHASE

The increased frequency of tremors shows the magma continuing to move towards the surface, with the mountain entering a "critical phase", the spokesman said.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said there has been an increase in volcanic tremors, with a total of 564 recorded on Monday.

Evacuees have packed into temporary shelters or moved in with relatives. About 2,000 cows have also been evacuated from the flanks of the volcano.

Balinese residents, international NGOs and the government have begun organising aid. - AFP

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