Since September it’s threatened to erupt, forcing more than a 100,000 residents to evacuate and leading to a substantial decline in Bali’s tourism industry. But seismic activity at the Mount Agung volcano has decreased over the past week, leading authorities to reduce the threat level and ordering some evacuees back to their homes. The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.
On Sunday afternoon, authorities reduced the threat level from dangerous, a level 4, to level 3 or high alert. The natural giant is not sleeping yet, but the seismic activity is decreasing and the radius of the danger zone has also been reduced.
Six local villages remain in the exclusion zone, about 70 kilometres from the popular Kuta beach.
That’s down from 28 villages.
“The last satellite image received indicates the thermal energy is also decreasing,” Devy Syahbana, the head of the Meteorological Bureau in Bali, said.
“Visually we have flown a drone two times to the summit of the crater and we have observed at two areas that the intensity of the activity on the crater surface is relatively decreasing.”
Authorities in Bali insisted the change in status was driven by the volcano’s activity, and no other factors.
Volcano threat hurting tourism
Earlier this month, Bali’s Governor Mangku Pastika demanded foreign nations remove travel warnings about the increased volcanic activity.
“I asked them to lift the warning because it is still safe,” he said after the island’s hotel industry recorded a significant drop in trade as a result of the volcanic activity.
It was reported the holiday island suffered at a least a 2 trillion Rupiah ($200 million) loss.
The exclusion zone has been decreased from 12 kilometres to 7.5 kilometres and 9 kilometres to 6 kilometres in some areas.
“Those people who live in areas outside of the 6 kilometre zone, those areas are back to normal,” the head of Bali’s mitigation agency, Dewaq Made Indra, said.
“If you need any help for transportation, please contact us.”
More than 47,000 residents can still not return to their homes.
The famous Besakih temple has been removed from the danger zone.
Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago is riddled with more than 100 active volcanoes.