Villagers are staying in temporary camps, sports centers, village halls, or with friends and relatives. Some do return to the exclusion zone during the day to tend to their livestock or shift the animals to areas further from the volcano for their safety. Others say they are selling their cows because they don’t know when they’ll be able to return.
“It’s obviously an awful thing. We want to be out of here just to be safe,” said an Australian woman at Bali’s airport who identified herself as Miriam. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hundreds of thousands of face masks will be distributed in Bali as part of government humanitarian assistance that includes thousands of mattresses and blankets. Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
Over the past 5,000 years, Agung has erupted once a century on average and about a quarter of its eruptions have been a similar or stronger strength than 1963. Macquarie University volcanologist Heather Handley said the eruptions in 1843 and 1963 had a Volcanic Explosivity Index of about 5 on a scale where 8 would be the strength of an ancient supervolcano eruption such as Yellowstone in the U.S. or Toba in Indonesia.