The main airport on the Indonesian island of Bali, Ngurah Rai International Airport, has remained opened since Wednesday. Since then, thousands of stranded tourists have fled the island on flights to escape the impending volcanic eruption of Mount Agung.
But as ABC News has reported, there are also plenty of those who have decided to stay put and are running towards the volcano to get a glimpse at the rare (and dangerous) spectacle.
“It’s just beautiful. I like the power of them,” Mark Levitin told ABC News. Levitin also says this is his 12th volcanic eruption he’s witnessed in person.
Since Mount Agung began spewing thick ash, smoke and even fire on Saturday, officials have demanded 100,000 residents evacuate the surrounding area on the northeastern part of the island. Some 40,000 residents are currently being housed in shelters.
While some tourists like Levitin stick around to witness the natural phenomenon, others are utilizing this possibly narrow window to get off the island while they can. A large volcanic eruption remains imminent and officials have been reevaluating the status of the airport every six hours, as conditions could abruptly change and make it dangerous for airplanes to leave the island.
Large plumes of ash and smoke not only create dangerous visibility conditions for pilots, but they also make runways slick and unpredictable.
Some residents have also not heeded the warnings by officials, and their reasons are to take care of their land, livestock or because it is the only place they feel safe.
Katut Wiri and her family told ABC News that they must stay on their land, despite it being within the danger zone. If they left it, someone could claim the land for themselves.
“Yes I’m afraid,” Wiri said. “I feel really nervous. My heart pounds. Seeing the condition of the volcano frightened me.”
Officials stated that this is a very dangerous situation and that people should evacuate to a safer area. The last time Mount Agung erupted in 1963, more than 1,700 people were killed.
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