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.
Mount Agung, Bali
Following several months of increased volcanic activity, Mount Agung in East Bali began erupting on 21 November 2017. This has led to periodic closures at Bali and Lombok airports and disruption to flights in the region.
This period of increased volcanic activity may continue for some time and further disruption can’t be ruled out. If you’re planning to travel to Bali, you should read our travel advice in full and use this checklist and information page from the British Embassy in Jakarta to make sure you’re fully prepared before you travel. While in Bali, make sure you stay up to date with our travel advice. You can sign up for email alerts and follow our @FCOTravel and @UKinIndonesia Twitter accounts for updates.
The FCO continue to advise against all travel to within 10 kilometres of the crater. This area is mostly covered by an existing exclusion zone put into place by the local authorities, which extends between 8 and 10kms from the crater.
During previous eruptions, areas beyond 10km have also been affected by mud/debris flows (particularly in valleys) and volcanic ash falls. While in Bali, you should therefore monitor local media, exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
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 on the island, 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 the current exclusion zone 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.
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.
Ash clouds can affect flight schedules and the operation of regional airports. Check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.
Check media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities before travelling to areas that are prone to volcanic activity and take extra care.
The US Federal Emergency 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.