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Photos: a volcano in Bali is threatening to erupt, and thousands are stranded

100,000 residents have been advised to evacuate, and 59,000 tourists are said to be stuck on the island.

A man riding a motorcycle, crossing a bridge on Jl. Kubu, Karangasem, Bali on 27 November 2017, when the phreatic eruption of Mount Agung happened. (Photo by Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man crossing a bridge in Karangasem, Bali, on November 27, 2017, during volcanic activity on Mount Agung.
Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of residents of the island of Bali, Indonesia, are evacuating out of the path of a volatile volcano that threatens to erupt for the first time in 54 years. As Mount Agung belches plumes of ash and steam, Bali’s airport has canceled flights through Tuesday, leaving some 59,000 travelers stranded on an island known more for its white sand beaches and tropical waters.

On Monday, the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority raised the threat level to 4, the highest possible level. “We ask people in the danger zone to evacuate immediately because there’s a potential for a bigger eruption,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesperson for the disaster agency, told reporters on Monday. The authorities may soon widen the zone of evacuation and increase the estimated number of those affected.

Scientists are watching the volcanic activity in real time both seismically and through live video feed. Ash and steam have been photographed shooting up into the air above the volcano for over a week.

Heather Handley, a volcanologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, told Science Magazine that “it is very hard to tell at this time whether there will be a bigger eruption.” The extent of the eruption depends on whether gases are trapped in the magma, the molten rock that bubbles up from the earth’s core. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide stuck in magma build up pressure, the magazine explained, increasing the likelihood of an explosion. But a slow release of gases, through vents in the mountain, could mean a curtailed eruption.

Volcanologist Janine Krippner told the BBC, “The magma has been moving up from inside, and it’s breaking rock as it goes along. As the magma moves up, water inside the volcano heats up, steam builds up pressure and it gets to a point where the rock just can’t hold it back any more.” That’s where Bali finds the volcano now.

The last time the mountain erupted, in 1963, 1,000 people died in fast-moving mud and lava flows that continued for a full year. The Indonesian authorities worry those same kinds of mud flows, triggered by rains and carrying volcanic material, could again prove deadly.

Bali is a destination for both luxury travelers and backpackers who come with little or no money. The island’s governor, Made Mangku Pastika, is begging local hotels to offer beds for free. “Yes, I’m asking. This is a disaster. Especially for those who have spent all their money,” he told the Guardian. He said he would extend time stamps on tourist visas for those stuck for the foreseeable future. Some 5 million visitors come to the island each year.

These images give a sense of the potential crisis the island is facing.

100,000 locals have been advised to evacuate from the path of the Mount Agung’s potential lava flows.

TOPSHOT - Balinese people ride on an open car past Mount Agung erupting seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 27, 2017. Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

5 million tourists visit Bali each year. 59,000 are stranded there now.

A foreign tourist takes pictures in front of Mount Agung erupting seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 27, 2017. Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

Locals and tourists alike are at risk for getting caught in both hot and cold lava flows, as well as mud flows. Here, lava muddies the river Yeh Sah.

BALI, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 27: People see cold lava flow amid an eruption of Mount Agung on the river Yeh Sah on November 27, 2017 in Bali, Indonesia. Solo Imaji/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Rains are washing volcanic material down Mount Agung into rivers and toward villages.

KARANGASEM, BALI, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 27: Volcanic material from Mount Agung flows through a local river in Gesing Village while villagers are seen watching nearby on November 27, 2017 in Karangasem, Island of Bali, Indonesia. Indonesian authorities raised the state of alert to its highest level for the volcano, Mount Agung, after thick ash started shooting thousands of meters into the air with increasing intensity. Based on reports, as many as 100,000 villagers will need to leave the expanded danger zone while tens of thousands of tourists have been stranded due to airport closures. (Photo by Andri Tambunan/Getty Images) Andri Tambunan/Getty Images

Flights at Bali’s Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport were canceled Monday as Mount Agung threatened to erupt. Passengers scrambled to find hotels and book new flights.

Passengers gather at the Gusti Ngurah Rai International airport in Denpasar, Bali on November 27, 2017, after flights were cancelled due to the threat of an eruption by the Mount Agung volcano. AFP

Lava is only one part of a volcanic eruption. Plumes of smoke from Mount Agung have reached 1,500 meters above its summit.

General view of Mount Agung during an eruption seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26, 2017. Mount Agung belched smoke as high as 1,500 metres above its summit, sparking an exodus from settlements near the mountain. (Photo by Muhammad Fauzy/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Muhammad Fauzy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here, Balinese Hindus take part in a ceremony in hope of preventing a volcanic eruption.

Balinese Hindus take part in a ceremony, where they pray near Mount Agung in hope of preventing a volcanic eruption, in Muntig village of the Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26, 2017. Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

A view of Mount Agung's eruption at a Balinese temple.

TOPSHOT - Mount Agung's eruption is seen between Balinese temple at Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26, 2017. Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

Plumes of steam, smoke, and ash have filled the Balinese sky since last Tuesday.

General view of Mount Agung during an eruption seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 26, 2017. Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images

Some villages are in the direct path of a potential eruption. Below is the Kubu subdistrict in Karangasem Regency, seen on November 25.

General view of Mount Agung during an eruption seen from Kubu sub-district in Karangasem Regency, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on November 25, 2017.  Mount Agung, Bali, Indonesia, erupted phreatically for the second time by releasing thick gray smoke and ash with a height of 3 km from the top of the crater, November 25th 2017. However, not all the people who live in the dangerous zone don't want to evacuate. This because after two months being rumored to be erupting, nothing happened. (Photo by Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It is estimated an additional 50,000 people may need to move out of the reach of the volcano. Here, a mother puts her child to sleep at Gunung Agung Refugee Post in Bali.

A mother is putting her child to sleep at Gunung Agung Refugee Post, Sweca Pura Sports Arena, Klungkung, Bali on Thursday, November 23, 2017. After a phreatic eruption on Tuesday 21 November, the number of refugees at Sweca Pura Sports Arena post amounted to 2,966 people. Mount Agung erupted phreatically by releasing thick gray smoke and ash with medium pressure with a height of 700 meters from the top of the crater. The day before the eruption, the total number of refugees reached 29,184 people spread over 278 dots. Refugees increased 60 souls to 29,245 people after the eruption with the same point of distribution. Two days after the eruption, the number of refugees was significantly reduced to 3,248 people to 25,997 people spread over 229 refugee points. (Photo by Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Keyza Widiatmika/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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