More than 34,000 flee from Mount Agung in fear of eruption

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KARANGASEM, INDONESIA: More than 34,000 people have fled from a rumbling volcano on the resort island of Bali as the magnitude of tremors grows, prompting fears it could erupt for the first time in more than 50 years, an official said yesterday.

Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said the number of people fleeing their homes surrounding the volcano had tripled since Friday amid growing alarm that Mount Agung could erupt at any moment.

"The evacuation process is ongoing, and we expect the number of evacuees to continue to rise," the agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

The volcano, located about 75km from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August.

Officials announced the highest possible alert level late on Friday following the increasing volcanic activities and urged people to stay at least 9km away from the crater.


"I am actually worried to leave, I left my cows and pigs at home because we were ordered to vacate our village immediately," said villager Nyoman Asih who evacuated with her family.

The international airport in Bali's capital, Denpasar, was anticipating possibilities of airport closure but no flight schedules had been affected as of yesterday.

The airport has prepared buses and trains to divert passengers to alternative hubs in neighbouring provinces if the mountain erupts.

More than 1,000 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963. - AFP