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Bali volcano. What you need to know
There are now real fears of an imminent volcanic eruption at Mount Agung in Bali. Here’s what you need to know if you had plans to travel there.
Experts say that all the evidence still points to an eruption at any time, although the number of tremors, while still high, has decreased in the last few days.
The highest level of volcano alert remains in place and all analysis points to the fact that the chance of an eruption is more likely than not, although seismologists say that 'swarms of activity' can last years and don’t always mean an eruption is imminent.
Stay or go?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, is urging you to defer all nonessential travel to the affected area and has warned that ash clouds could disrupt air travel.
The Ministry is also advising that Singaporeans on holiday in Bali should monitor the situation closely, stay in touch with relatives back home and e-Register themselves with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency says everyone should stay 9 kilometres away from the crater and up to 12 kilometres away to the north, northeast, southeast and south-southwest.
Locals say the wind direction is currently North/North East and should remain so for the coming weeks making the airport safe.
Mount Agung is on the East side of Bali, around 70 kms away from the main airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport or I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport. It is currently operating as normal.
If the volcano does erupt then the airport will close if the wind direction changes and starts blowing from the South, although this usually happens during the monsoon period, December to March.
Nine alternative airports have been prepared to divert flights and the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation says it has detailed plans in place should the main airport close.
Ferries and boats are still travelling to neighbouring islands and life in Southern Bali is continuing as normal.
The Bali Tourism Office is continuing to say that Bali is safe and is urging tourists to still come.
Ubud is 50 kilometres away from the volcano, while Kuta and the resorts in the south are 71 kilometres away.
Mount Agung is Bali’s highest summit (3,031 metres) and was a popular place for trekkers to climb and watch the sunrise. But at present there is a 12-kilometre exclusion zone around it and 140,000 locals living within the affected area have been moved to shelters.
The volcano last erupted in 1963 and claimed 1,500 lives, mainly because evacuation happened so late. Mount Agung and Mount Sinabung (which spewed plumes of ash 2.5km into the air as it erupted at 1.23pm local time on Wednesday) both sit on the deadly Pacific Ring of Fire in Indonesia, the most active volcano belt on the planet.
Are you covered?
Not all Singapore travel insurance companies will reimburse you. In fact, Budget Direct Insurance is one of the few Singapore insurers that will cover you in these circumstances.
We would like to re-assure our customers at Budget Direct Insurance that your policy, either single trip or annual, will cover you for financial losses arising claims directly or indirectly caused by the event if:
* For Single Trips: You bought the insurance policy before a relevant authority (whether in Singapore or elsewhere) issues a travel advice on the event or before the event is reported in any media.
* For Annual Plans: You booked your trip before the travel warning announcement by the a relevant authority (whether in Singapore or elsewhere) issues a travel advice on the event or before the event is reported in any media.
* If you buy your insurance policy after the event is reported by the media or following a relevant authority’s (whether in Singapore or elsewhere) issuance of travel advice on the event, then your policy will not cover you for claims directly or indirectly caused by the event. For example, we DON’T cover for any travel delay/ cut short due to volcano eruption but we DO cover you for medical expenses due to fever (etc) or if you were robbed
A spokesperson for Budget Direct Insurance said: “We understand that the recent events in Bali have caused a lot of confusion and panic. Rest assured if you bought your policy with us before the travel advice was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or before the event was reported in the media, then you will be able to make a claim on your policy for the covered losses directly or indirectly caused by the event.”
More about what to do if your travel is cancelled, and important insurance advice in our next post.