Mount Agung Eruption Threat Displaces Thousands of People
On the island of Bali, the threat of Mount Agung erupting displaced 140,000 inhabitants to evacuation centers, after Indonesian officials raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level on Sept. 22, 2017.
Indonesian authorities say, that of the 140,000 evacuees, approximately 70,000 did not need to evacuate and were not within the immediate danger zone of eruption. Still, many fear to leave the evacuation centers, which are located in sports centers and village halls, according to AP reporter Firdia Lisnawati.
Some have still risked returning to the danger zones in order to tend to their livestock, which serves as the livelihood for many of the affected inhabitants.
The raised alert status comes after daily tremors at the site of the volcano. The volcano last erupted in 1963 and was amongst the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, where the produced ashfall, pyroclastic flows and lahars lead to the deaths of over a thousand people.
According to a 2015 Status Report from Indonesia’s Disaster Risk Management Baseline, Indonesia is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of ecological and geographical hazards and disasters. Besides having the most active volcanoes out of any other country in the world, Indonesia also suffers from natural hazards like forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, floods, droughts and landslides.
This vulnerability partly stems from Indonesia’s location in the Pacific Ocean. The throng of nearly 17,000 islands that compose the country sits directly atop the Pacific Ring of Fire, the chain of high seismic activity that circles the Pacific Ocean. According to National Geographic, 90% of earthquakes occur in the Pacific Ring and 75% of active volcanoes are located there.
The Pacific Ring owes its existence to the high level of activity of tectonic plates subducting in the area, where large segments of the earth’s crust moves slowly beneath another segment of the earth’s crust. Although it is slow moving and occurs many miles beneath the surface of the earth, the results can be fatal, as seen from the high death toll that earthquakes and volcano eruptions can and have produced.