Kelowna residents trapped in Bali by volcanic smoke and ash are taking each day as it comes, and readying themselves for worst case scenarios.
“It is crazy down here right now,” said Gina Petrovich. “Although it’s still business as usual in many parts of the island, everyone is preparing for the worst.”
Petrovich’s hotel recently gave her a list of procedures to follow should Mount Agung’s eruption get worse. Among those warnings was a note that strong earthquakes may soon arrive.
“I am actually pretty scared. I have been sleeping in clothes that are suitable for evacuation as well as have a bag packed with essentials in case I need to flee,” she said. “The airport is completely closed until further notice which means my flight home in two days isn’t looking too promising.”
She’s been told to monitor the news and check with her airline on a regular basis.
“I’ve seen these disasters in movies and the news but never thought I’d be in the middle of an event like this,” she said.
Petrovich was only in Bali for two hours when Mount Agung awoke after what seemed like diminishing action.
She’s since seen it rise back to a Level 4 alert.
“ I’m overwhelmed over here with the new news of magma appearing out the crater of Agung, and trying to figure out what this means for me as a traveler in Bali,” she said. “Will I be stuck here? I have no idea what to expect really, I’m just remaining as calm as I can and seeking all the knowledge I can for what is in store for me and everyone here.”
Kelowna resident Garth Allmand just arrived in Bali last weekend for a two-month stay with his wife.
Allmand said their resort accommodation is about 75 kms west of the volcano, and with the wind blowing east they are not seeing the huge plumes of smoke and ash overhead at the moment.
“It’s mainly villagers who live on the slopes of Mount Agung that are being evacuated,” Allmand said. “The volcano in its benign state is about 12,000 feet high and very majestic on the island horizon. One of our favourite fishing villages to visit that is popular with tourists is on evacuation alert, so it might be some time before we can visit there again.”
Allmand, a frequent vacationer to Bali where his son-in-law operates his own jewelry manufacturing business, said some guests at the resort where they are staying have been waiting to leave but don’t seem to be in a great panic.
“If the wind changes and starts blowing in our direction that will change things perhaps, but at this point we are just relaxing and reading about it like everyone else,” Allmand said.
The Balinese volcano, the highest point on the island, has grown increasingly restless over the past week, with the alert system raised to its highest level early on Monday, as the nature of the eruptions has shifted from phreatic, or steam-based, to magmatic.
About 100,000 people in 22 villages within a six-mile red zone around the volcano have been told to leave immediately.
Authorities shut Bali’s international airport down until further notice because of the ash. Petrovich and a few other Kelowna residents are among tens of thousands of tourists and residents stranded on the island.
An airport spokesman said 445 flights were cancelled, stranding about 59,000 travellers. The closure was to be in effect until Tuesday morning, although officials said the situation would be reviewed every six hours.
– with files from CP
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