Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur regularly, which can present a potential threat of tsunamis. The capacity of the Indonesian emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited.
On 11 May 2018, Mount Merapi, near Yogyakarta in central Java, erupted. The Indonesian authorities have set a 3km exclusion zone around the volcano. If you’re in the area, you should monitor local media, exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities.
Mount Agung, Bali
On 10 February 2018, the Indonesian authorities lowered Mount Agung’s alert status from the highest Level 4 to Level 3 (Standby). The exclusion zone was also reduced from 6 kilometres to 4 kilometres around the crater. The authorities have indicated that Mount Agung continues to show signs of volcanic activity and the possibility of a volcanic eruption remains. The alert level for Mount Agung may change at short notice.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 4 kilometres of the crater. This is an exclusion zone put into place by the local authorities.
Eruptions in late 2017 led to periodic closures at Bali and Lombok airports and disruption to flights in the region. Further disruption can’t be ruled out. The local authorities have indicated that Mount Agung continues to show signs of volcanic activity and the possibility of volcanic eruptions remains.
Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra
Mount Sinabung in Kalo Regency, North Sumatra has seen a recent increase in volcanic activity and produced a large ash cloud on 19 February 2018. The Indonesian authorities have set an alert status of Level 4 (highest) and are maintaining a 7km exclusion zone around the volcano. The authorities have indicated that Mount Sinabung continues to show signs of volcanic activity and the possibility of a volcanic eruption remains, though more recent eruptions of Mount Sinabung have not significantly disrupted local travel in Sumatra. The alert level for Mount Sinabung may change at short notice.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 7km of the crater. This is an exclusion zone put into place by the local authorities.
General volcano advice
There are many active volcanoes in Indonesia, any of which can erupt without warning resulting in the evacuation of villages within a 3 to 7 kilometre radius. In the past, repeated eruptions have caused destruction and fatalities. Check media reports before travelling to areas that are prone to volcanic activity. Take extra care and follow the advice of the local authorities, including respecting any exclusion zones.
During previous eruptions, areas beyond local exclusion zones have been affected by mud/debris flows (particularly in valleys) and volcanic ash falls. While near any volcano, you should therefore monitor local media, exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
Ash clouds can affect flight schedules and the operation of regional airports. Check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.
If you’re travelling to areas of Indonesia where volcanic activity is ongoing, you should be aware that ash plumes can affect air quality and have an impact on health. Public Health England (PHE) advise that a properly fitted face mask may provide some protection. While masks should be available in Indonesia, you may choose to buy your own before you travel. PHE recommend masks that comply with EU standards P2 or P3 or the US standards N95 or N98. You should make sure that your mask fits your face and you know how to wear it properly.
If you have any pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, be aware that you might be at increased risk of triggering or worsening your symptoms. Make sure you travel with sufficient supplies of any regular medicines to cater for this.
In the event of a major eruption, areas outside of exclusion zones may be subject to increased levels of particulate and gaseous pollutants in the air. Face masks only offer protection against small particulate matter; they don’t protect against hazardous gases emitted by a volcano. Unless you’re advised to evacuate the area you’re in, the best way to reduce your exposure is to remain inside and close all doors and windows.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
If a major earthquake or landslide occurs close to shore, you should follow the instructions of local authorities, bearing in mind that a tsunami could arrive within minutes. The Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning Centre issues tsunami warnings when a potential tsunami with significant impact is imminent or expected.
Large areas of the country, including parts of West Sumatra, Central, East and West Java and Jakarta have been severely affected by heavy rains and subsequent landslides and flooding in recent years. Throughout Indonesia flash floods and more widespread flooding occur regularly. Cities - especially Jakarta - often suffer severe localised flooding which can result in major traffic congestion, and occasionally deaths. The main toll road to Soekarno-Hatta international airport can be affected by flooding. Slips and landslides occur in mountainous and remote areas, but also in urban areas.
Monitor local reporting and take care when driving and walking. Keep a stock of food and bottled water and make sure your phone is charged.