Bali volcano hurls lava and ash amid further eruption

Mount Agung spews ash and smoke into the air (Firdia Lisnawati/AP) Credit: AP

An eruption at Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali has sent a column of thick ash high into the air and hurled lava down its slopes.

The Indonesian geological agency’s Agung monitoring post said explosions from the mountain lasted more than seven minutes.

Flares of “incandescent lava” reached 1.2 miles from the crater, it said, setting fire to forests on the mountain.

Nearly 700 people fled the village of Banjar Galih, about 3.7 miles from the crater, to an evacuation centre, said resident Ketut Budi.

“I saw smoke rising and the volcano rumbled very loud,” he said. “We came here with motorcycles and those with cars helped carry other people.”

It was the volcano’s first explosive eruption since a dramatic increase in activity last year that temporarily forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

The alert status for Agung has not been raised from its current second-highest level and the exclusion zone around the crater remains at 2.5 miles.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the explosions on Monday night were “thunderous” and hurled white hot rocks from the crater.

The volcano was periodically erupting ash on Tuesday, which was drifting west. The island’s airport, to the south, was still operating normally.

Bali’s international airport closed for half a day on Friday because of volcanic ash from Agung, disrupting travel for tens of thousands. The island is set to host World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in October.

The volcano, about 45 miles north-east of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Authorities lowered its alert status from the highest level in February after seismic activity quietened.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.