Thousands flee as Bali volcano threatens to erupt

More than 35,000 people have fled a menacing volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will erupt for the first time in more than half a century as increasing tremors rattle the region.

The numbers on Sunday from disaster officials are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise, they say. It includes people who left voluntarily as well as those ordered to evacuate from a six-eight mile zone around Mount Agung.

Authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level on Friday following a "tremendous increase" in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised the welcoming response of local communities on Bali to the flood of evacuees.

Thousands are living in temporary shelters, sport centres, village halls and with relatives or friends.

Officials have said there is no current danger to people in other parts of Bali.

In 1963, the 3,031m (9,944ft) Agung hurled ash as high as 20km (12 miles), according to volcanologists, and remained active for about a year. Lava travelled 7.5km (4.7 miles) and ash reached Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, about 1,000km (620 miles) away.

The mountain, 72km (45 miles) to the north-east of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

- AP

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