Authorities in Indonesia last week raised the state of alert to the highest level against an ‘imminent’ major eruption in Bali’s Mount Agung, and yet the threat has not deterred some tourists from snapping selfies in bikinis and doing handstands in front of the volcano.
Airlines cancelled more flights departing the Indonesian holiday island of Bali on Saturday, citing forecasts of deteriorating flying conditions due to a risk of volcanic ash from the erupting Mount Agung volcano.
Over 40,000 locals have fled townships and villages surrounding the mountain with another 60,000 ordered to evacuate immediately over fears cold lava sweeping into the areas, but a number of tourists are taking the opportunity to pose for “once-in-a-lifetime” photos for social media, Express.co.uk reported.
Many of the photos were seen on Instagram, with people showing off their shots posing in front of smoke clouds billowing from the volcano.
At the landmark Lempuyang temple, or ‘Gates of heaven’, Instagram user Karina Kapris shared a picture of herself with a caption that read: “That’s what I call a once in a lifetime photo.”
Another post by Balicaptions shows a woman in a black bikini facing the volcano with her back towards the camera, performing the splits on top of an infinity pool.
Bali, famous for its surf, beaches and temples, attracted nearly five million visitors last year but business has slumped in areas around the volcano since September when Agung’s volcanic tremors began to increase.
Agung rises majestically over eastern Bali at a height of just over 3,000m (9,800 feet). When it last erupted in 1963, it killed more than 1,000 people and razed several villages.
While some tourists are taking the rare occurrence to adorn their social media websites, others are struggling to get home.
Australian couple Justine and Greg Hill were on holiday with their two teenage children and had been due to fly out on Saturday but their flight later that evening was cancelled.
“It’s more an inconvenience than anything. Don’t understand why if other airlines are flying, some others aren’t. Obviously, there must be safety protocols but there’s no detailed explanation,” said Greg Hill, 46, who was waiting at the airport.
Several foreign consulates have set up booths in the international departures area to assist stranded passengers.
Subrata Sarkar, India’s vice consul in Bali, told Reuters at the airport’s international departure area that they had helped around 500 passengers so far this week.
“We have advised citizens the volcano may erupt. We never say ‘please don’t come’. But we have issued travel advisories. If it’s urgent business, then ok, but if it’s only tourism, then plans should be reconsidered,” said Sarkar.
***Additional reporting by Reuters