Mount Agung on Bali has erupted three times since Saturday. Breathtaking photos shared online show just how massive the effects have been as the watch for a more serious eruption ensues.
Since the first eruption began on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Indonesia Central Time, roughly 5,500 passengers have been stranded due to canceled flights and over 24,000 residents have been evacuated from the area, reports CNN. While the island's main airport remains open, airlines are taking precautions as the significant, airborne ash can damage plane engines.
The thick cloud of ash has reached heights of 2.5 miles leading to the National Agency for Disaster Management to issue a Level 3 alert, calling for no public activities within 4.5 miles of the peak of the mountain. "Bali is safe just keep away from disaster prone areas," wrote the agency on Twitter. The Indonesian island sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," known for its frequent seismic and volcanic activity as a result of colliding tectonic plates. The "Ring of Fire" is home to more than 130 active volcanoes. Officials and volcanologists tell the BBC that magma, molten rock, has been detected close to the volcano's surface.
The last time Mount Agung erupted was in 1963. Photos and videos shared by residents and journalists on the island underscore the magnitude of the volcanic explosion.
Currently, Indonesia's Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) has its status set to red, the highest possible, but given that Mount Agung is in eastern Bali, airports remain open as officials say that the ash can be avoided.
"The activity of Mount Agung has entered the magmatic eruption phase, it is still spewing ash at the moment, but we need to monitor and be cautious over the possibility of a strong, explosive eruption," volcanologist Gede Suantika commented to Reuters. According to the outlet, tourism to the island known for its beaches has slowed since Mount Agung's volcanic tremors began to increase in September.