Waiting for Agung

We are still waiting. The warning level 4 has been in place since last Friday night. By now, Wednesday afternoon, there have been no shortage of tremors (some substantial – a 4.2 yesterday afternoon) but still no eruption.

If we, who are not inconvenienced in any way, feel that the wait is interminable, how must the many evacuees feel? We still have water, power and the comforts of home. But more than 60,000 Balinese people have had to leave their homes, their animals, their livelihood and wait this out in one of the 300 shelters in safe zones around the island. Crowded conditions bring not only anxiety and boredom, but the rapid spread of illness. If the eruption does happen soon it will come as a relief for at least we know what we are dealing with. The uncertainty is draining. If Agung doesn’t erupt soon, who can say when it will be safe to return. This wait could go on for months.

Older people still remember 1963 clearly and media footage shows them in tears at the thought of enduring the trauma again. It’s a hellish situation.

Many people, local and expat are fundraising and collecting and distributing supplies. Planes are still landing and people coming in have been asked to bring protective masks – the island has run out. The flipside is that many others are canceling their trip, and this will have a huge economic impact. Tourism is Bali’s lifeblood.

At the very local level, a little school near us is sending money and donated items tomorrow to displaced peoples’ centres in Klungkung. Our village, and many others, have erected signs and are taking donations from people passing through. Karangasem is the regency that will be most affected in every way by this disaster

Ubud photographer and writer Rio Helmi has been reporting from the field on his blog Ubud Now & Then. Well worth a read.

Meanwhile, we wait.

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