Fears of Mount Agung eruption leaves Bali tourist towns deserted

Fears of Mount Agung eruption leaves Bali tourist towns deserted

A column of steam vapour is now visible above Bali's Mount Agung volcano.

The venting means the mountain is heating up — it hasn't erupted yet, but it might at any time, and the uncertainty is affecting tourism in some parts of the island.

In Bali's north-east, the town of Amed is normally bustling with tourists on diving holidays — today, it's empty.

"I'm not happy," 13-year-old Ni Made Febriana said.

"It's not fun, there are no tourists … they are afraid of earthquakes, and they have evacuated to some places with their friends."

Amed is about four kilometres outside the Mt Agung exclusion zone, but even if you couldn't see the massive volcano rising above the town, the regular tremors are a reminder of the proximity of the volcano — the mountain is being rocked by up to 1,000 tremors a day.

Further down Amed beach, closer to the three-kilometre high Mount Agung, cafe owner I Nyoman Kari lamented the lack of business.

"In Amed, all tourists have gone home because they are afraid of the eruption, two weeks ago, all tourist started to go home," he said

"Businesses like the speedboats have been evacuated to a safer place … the speedboats are very expensive, so we wanted to move it away from the ash.

"Besides, there are no guests here who want to cross to Gili [islands], that's the problem."

Restaurant worker Komang Putra said he had gone two days without serving a customer.

"Before the news about Mount Agung, we'd maybe have six tables during the day and it would get more crowded at night, around eight tables," he said. "But for the past six or seven days, it has been quiet."

Some neighbouring businesses have already closed.

"Maybe [this weekend] I will talk to the boss, to see how's the situation, should we close it down or keep it going," Mr Putra said.

Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said around 135,000 people are now registered with evacuation centres.

Some of them lived outside the exclusion zone but were uncertain about the safety of their homes.

"The danger line on the map is not clearly visible on the field, hence many people are afraid," he said.

"Also the number of hoaxes on social media [about an eruption] adds to the level of fear felt by many people including people who live in safe zone."