Photo: The back blocks of Candi Dasa.

Indonesia forum

Agung volcano on Bali primed for eruption

Posted by somtam2000 on 24/9/2017 at 18:00 admin

For the last couple of days Gunung Agung, the tallest volcano on Bali has been primed for eruption.

While the smart money is on it eventually erupting, it hasn't yet, and, for the vast majority of the island, life goes on 100% as usual.

Notable exceptions (of interest to casual visitors) include Tulamben (the diving centre on the north coast) which is pretty much totally evacuated—when the volcano last erupted, the lava flow headed north. Some places, though not all, in Amed have also closed for the moment. Call to check they are open before travelling up there. 15,000 ish people have been evacuated from the immediacy of the volcano.

There has been some very poor reports in the western media regarding the situation. Reports in the mainstream press in Australia of 200,000+ people fleeing the volcano are incorrect and totally false.

Our friend Rio Helmi has been travelling around the peak for days now and his reports (on Facebook) have been, by far, the most useful and non-panic-inducting. So if you're up for some more detail, please do check what Rio has to say. He also does a far better job of explaining the challenges the local people are facing—if this goes off, tourist’s flights being disrupted is really very small fry in the scheme of things, so please do keep some perspective.

In the event the volcano does erupt, the main concern is regarding the dust which, depending on how much of it there is, will directly effect flights (as the airport may be closed) and, more important, crops and food supplies (if it is really bad).

At this stage however, life rolls on

If you are planning on coming to Bali in the coming week(s) please do check you have valid travel insurance.

As Douglas Adams said, Don’t Panic!

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,901
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Posted by somtam2000 on 24/9/2017 at 20:08 admin

If you're wanting to make a donation to help those in need, some organisations doing good work include:

Kopernik
Bumi Sehat Foundation
East Bali Poverty Project

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Posted by amnicoll on 25/9/2017 at 05:39

excellent posting but may I suggest you highlight the issue about potential flight disruption more.

I always recommend that those aiming to travel overland one way and fly the other that they fly first and back by land as if there is disruption then your international flight might leave before you can get a re-arranged domestic flight back

It should also be noted that the disruption might not be restricted just to flights in and out of Bali

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Posted by somtam2000 on 25/9/2017 at 06:59 admin

As far as flight disruptions are concerned, if Agung erupts substantially, Bali airport will almost certainly be closed. Should that happen, domestic flights will most likely be diverted to Surabaya in Java and Praya on Lombok . International flights, especially those from Australia (whose carriers tend to cancel very quickly) will most likely be cancelled entirely, not diverted. Check with your airline.

The Denpasar airport authority has been reported as saying they have this all under control but I would be wary of ground transport to alternative airports being smooth and effective.

If the eruption is very bad, with a lot of ash, other regional airports such as Surabaya or Praya could be closed—but it would be unlikely both would be closed as they are in opposite directions and the ash should blow only in one direction.

Currently all ferry services to Java and Lombok are operating as normal. The fast boat services to the Gilis are also operating as per normal.

In the event that the airport is closed, ferry services will fill fast and considerable queues will develop extremely quickly as there simply isn't the capacity to move as many people by ferry as there is by plane.

Routes off Bali are the ferry to Java on the west coast (from Gilimanuk )in normal traffic conditions this drive takes 4-5 hours from Seminyak/Kuta, so in a case where everyone is trying to bail the island, the situation would have to be extremely bad for me to even consider driving this, as it would, in all likelihood be complete mayhem/gridlock.

To the east, ferries primarily run from Sanur, Kusamba and Padang Bai to Lombok, Nusa Lembongan Nusa Penida and the Gilis. There are a mix of fast and slow ferries. Capacity will be a challenge and the fast boats are not the safest operators. In my opinion a slow ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok would be a better bet, but would be very dependent on the situation on the ground and how bad the eruption is.


I don't really want to get into too much conjecture as there is no indication so far just how bad the eruption will be (if it erupts at all), but if it isn't catastrophic I would be inclined to try and sit things out on Bali rather than, in a panic, try and get off the island.

Bali is a big island.


Do read your travel insurance policy. This is important. Many insurers will now consider the eruption a pre-existing event, meaning if you buy insurance now, you may not be covered for volcanic disruption.

According to this story, the key date is September 15, meaning if you purchased your travel insurance before then, you should be set. However individual policies will vary etc etc - read the small print!

My quip up top about flights wasn't meant to say flight cancellations are not an issue, but rather that if this really goes off, there will be far bigger issues and disaster relief at play.

Hope this helps. I'll post more as it unfolds.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 26/9/2017 at 01:45 admin

Just an update on this, and not wanting to be melodramatic, but the following list is circulating on Twitter and Facebook re preparedness. Some of this is aimed at residents, but some also relevant to travellers who would like to be more prepared.

* Dust mask and eye protection
* Enough drinking water for at least 72 hours (bank on 3-4 litres per person per day)
* Enough non-perishable food for family and pets for 72 hours
* Plastic wrap (for electronics)
* Battery operated radio and loose batteries
* Lantern or torch (not your phone!)
* Extra meds for family and pets
* First aid kit
* Cleaning supplies (broom etc)
* Cash (as ATMs may empty out quickly)


They also have a handy health awareness leaflet (PDF).

If you are still o/s and bound for Bali and want to be prepared, buy a mask beforehand as they are pretty much sold out here now. You want to get a N95 dust/particle mask *. They are affordable and easily purchased online.

Just to note again, Agung has not erupted yet, and may not erupt at all! So please keep that in mind.

Cheers

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Posted by somtam2000 on 26/9/2017 at 01:48 admin

More info on face masks and goggles here.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/9/2017 at 16:12 admin

There have been a few videos floating around on Facebook and so on showing means to improvise a mask (for those who don't have one).

The IVHNN (International Volcanic Health Hazard Network) has a handy page detailing the varying effectiveness of masks and also briefly looks at alternatives.

TLDR; an improvised mask is better than nothing.

Aside from this, no no other substantial updates for now. The volcano grumbles on!

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Posted by gecktrek on 6/10/2017 at 15:30

hey, any news on the agung rumblings? the story seems to have disappeared off my news screen after the priests(?) climbed up the mountain!

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Posted by somtam2000 on 7/10/2017 at 03:08 admin

Nah, still rumbling.

Made this site to website it up ;-)

A French guy climbed it yesterday as well.

Twit.

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Posted by DanieleC on 9/10/2017 at 16:53

Hello

I will depart the 28th october from Milan to Jakarta and next to Ambon.
Can I have some problem?

Thanks

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Posted by somtam2000 on 10/10/2017 at 06:02 admin

Hi,

I really can't answer this with any kind of authority as the volcano will blow when it blows, but most Jakarta to Ambon flights do not hop through Bali, so you are less likely to have a problem than people who are actually planning on flying into Bali.

Cheers

Stuart

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Posted by SBE on 20/10/2017 at 15:29

I'm planning on flying into (and out of) Bali soon so I predict the volcano will erupt between Oct 31st and Nov 3rd ish.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 25/11/2017 at 16:38 admin

Agung erupted last night and continues to erupt this morning—we can see the ash plume from Casa Travelfish in south Bali—reports from far smarter people than us suggest is is about 5,000 metres high at this stage.

There were some flight cancellations last night—primarily from Australia with Jetstar. If you're flying to Bali today or tomorrow, especially from Australia, it would be prudent to check with your airline to see what is happening.

Will update this as more news rolls out—the island is mostly just waking up!

The MAGMA site (yes, that really is the acronym!) has a summary of all VONA —this is what is most likely to affect flight cancellations and so on. You can see the summary here. Agung is currently at RED—which is not good.

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Posted by exacto on 27/11/2017 at 15:04

@somtam:

Media here in the states says international airport closed and up to 100K people required to evacuate. What is the latest from where you stand? Are ferries still running? Is the Lombok airport still open? etc. Regards.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/11/2017 at 15:30 admin

Ops totally forgot to update this! Thanks exacto :)

Yes, Bali airport is closed and will almost certainly be closed for another 24 hours. I'm not sure of the status of Lombok airport right now.

Ferries to both Lombok and Java are running as normal.

There are direct bus services from Bali airport to Surabaya , a ticket apparently costs 300,000 rupiah and the trip takes 12-14 hours—I'd lean towards 14 as there is probably congestion at the ferry crossing.

If you need to get out of Bali, the bus to Surabaya is absolutely the direction you should be heading in.

However, and this is very important, do check with your travel insurer to find out what you are and are not covered for. Do not just go and buy another ticket ex-Surabaya for example assuming they'll fix you up for it.

All this said, if you are on a more open-ended trip then there is nothing wrong with just sitting tight. We're in South Bali at the moment and save an enormous electric storm yesterday, all is business as usual.

If you are into visa overstay because of the airport being closed, I have read reports that you can get an emergency extension free of charge for two weeks, BUT it must be needed because of airport closure/flight cancellation. Staff at Bali airport will be able to assist.

Lastly, this eruption is far from over and there are reports of significant amounts of lava on the surface of the crater—this is not good—many experts think the eruption to get considerably worse before it gets better.

In summary:
*) Don't panic
*) If you need to leave, go to Surabaya, there are more international flights from there

Will update more as I hear—just first light here in Bali at the moment.

Cheers

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/11/2017 at 18:43 admin

Lombok airport (Praya) is currently open.

There is a media reporting bumped passengers will be waiting till December 5 for a flight out (assuming the airport reopens soon, which is quite an assumption).

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/11/2017 at 19:27 admin

Ok, so another update.

According to the airport (who I just called), the so-called airport bus from Bali Airport to Surabaya does not exist. Instead there is a free bus service which runs "all the time" between the airport and Mengwi Terminal. This is a large bus station kind of half way to Ubud. From there you then need to book your own bus ticket onwards to Surabaya.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/11/2017 at 21:41 admin

The authorities have just closed Bali airport for another day, until Wednesday 7pm.
Praya airport on Lombok remains open.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/11/2017 at 23:00 admin

Ok, the non-existent buses now do exist, Direct between Bali airport and Surabaya. Ten departures a day apparently. Thanks Theodora for legging it to the airport to find out.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 29/11/2017 at 15:38 admin

Have added a fairly detailed piece outlining the main options open to travellers either stranded on Bali, wanting to skip it or wanting to get here.

If any questions, please let me know.

Cheers!

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