Volcano eruption fears force 50,000 to flee

Authorities said nearly 50,000 people have fled the Indonesian tourist Island of Bali Sunday, fearing a looming volcano.

The authorities said Mount Agung has seen signs of magma rising in the recent days, forcing to create a 7.5 mile buffer zone around the mountain where the volcano is located.

The highest level alert was issued on Friday.

Popular tourist areas and flights in Bali remain unaffected, despite Indonesia’s national volcanology center saying on Sunday night that the mountain’s “seismic energy is increasing and has the potential to erupt,” the BBC reported.

The eruption would halt all flights – pressuring tourists to cut their vacations short to avoid getting stranded on the island during the disaster.

“It's obviously an awful thing. We want to be out of here just to be safe,” an Australian woman at the Bali airport told AAP.

The geology observers witnessed a 200m-tall smoke column on early Sunday. “We observed sulphuric smoke spewing from its crater and we never saw this before,” chief geologist Gede Suantika told Reuters.

The last time the volcano erupted was in 1963 that killed around 1,100 people.

Thousands of islanders are currently residing in temporary shelters, village halls, or staying with their family members. 14 tons of aid, including tents, blankets, and mattresses were sent, according to a government official.

Some local residents have defied the government’s order to evacuate out of concern over the fate of their livestock, prompting some to use the potential catastrophe to buy up the livestock at the discounted rate, the Jakarta Post reported.

This forced to some organizations to set up cattle shelters. “That’s why we set up these cattle shelters, to provide displaced people with a place for their cattle, thus, eliminating the need for them to sell their livestock at ridiculously low prices,” Klungkung neighborhood association head Nyoman Suardika told the Post.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.