Bali evacuees wait for signs of Mount Agung volcano eruption

Volcano last erupted in 1963

(CNN) - Bali is on volcano watch amid rumblings from Mount Agung and warnings that it could erupt at any time.

More than 75,000 people have now been evacuated from an exclusion zone around the volcano, which is around 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Bali's main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak.

That's more than the number of people who live there, but others outside the zone are also fleeing to evacuation centers on the island, according to the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency.

The official exclusion zone extends 12 kilometers from Mount Agung, which is based on last time the volcano erupted in 1963.

Then, more than 1,700 people were killed and many villages destroyed, though at that stage there was no early warning system. Around 1,700 houses on the mountain's slopes were destroyed.

This time, officials aren't taking any chances.

Villagers have been asked to leave the exclusion zone, however visitors are being told it's still safe to go to popular tourist areas south of the volcano.

Here's some advice for travelers.

Should you cancel your trip?

Bali is still a safe destination, according to government and airline officials.

"Denpasar City and most of the touristic destinations in Bali are safe from the eruption or dangerous impact of the eruption," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of Information and data of Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency, said.

Travelers should stay away from the exclusion zone and check with their airline or travel agency before traveling.

Will flights be affected?

Aircraft have been advised to avoid the area but so far no flights have been canceled.

Bali International Airport will likely be closed in the case of an eruption, but it'll depend on whether volcanic material is considered to be a hazard to flights.

How close is it to holiday destinations?

The most dangerous area is within the radial of 12 kilometers from the Mount Agung peak where all activities are closed -- including Pura Besakih, Bali's biggest and holiest Hindu temple located on the slopes of Mount Agung.

Bali's artistic hub, the small town of Ubud, is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Mount Agung.

Denpasar (where the airport is located) and the popular Kuta Beach are more than 63 kilometers (40 miles) from the active volcano.

In case of a big eruption, the danger zone could be expanded.

How likely is an eruption?

It's hard to tell, experts say.

"Even with all the signs and calculation we have today no one can tell when is the eruption will occur," said Surono, an expert of volcanology and former head of Indonesia Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center.

The warning level has been updated to four, the highest level on Indonesia's Volcano Activities Warning System.


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