Finally, some relief for tourists in Bali

INDONESIAN authorities lowered the alert status of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano from the highest level on Sunday, following a significant decrease in activity in recent days.

This also means insurance companies have started to resume covering travellers for volcano-related activity in Bali.

More than 140,000 people fled the area around the mountain after its alert status was raised to the highest level on September 22, indicating an eruption may be imminent.

The region has been rattled daily by hundreds of tremors from the volcano.

Mount Agung, located about 70 kilometres northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last erupted in 1963, killing about 1100 people.

Seismic activity at Mount Agung has dropped dramatically. Graph: Indonesian Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard MitigationSource:Supplied

Kasbani, a government volcanologist who uses just one name, said the decision to downgrade Agung’s status was made after several scientific indicators showed its activities were decreasing drastically.

Tremors from the 3,031-metre volcano, which indicate rising magma, have reduced in number from about 1000 a day to fewer than 400.

In this handout photograph taken by and released on October 19, 2017 by the Indonesian National Board of Disaster Management, the crater of the Mount Agung volcano is photographed in Karangasem on the island of Bali. Thousands of residents who fled a rumbling volcano on the island of Bali are refusing to leave evacuation centres after being told to return to their homes outside of the immediate danger zone. / AFP PHOTO / INDONESIAN NATIONAL BOARD OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / INDONESIAN NATIONAL BOARD OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT/ HANDOUT" – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSSource:AFP

Kasbani said the radius of the volcano’s danger zone declined from 12 kilometres to 7.5 kilometres from Agung’s crater. The government volcano agency said the downgrade means villagers who evacuated but do not live in the new danger zone could return home, but should not venture close to the crater, which was still emitting smoke.

Mount Agung volcano spews steam and smoke into the air as seen from Bangli on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali on October 23, 2017. Thousands of residents who fled a rumbling volcano on the island of Bali are refusing to leave evacuation centres after being told to return to their homes outside of the immediate danger zone. / AFP PHOTO / AGUS RANUSource:AFP

When news of the volcano’s “imminent” eruption broke last month, Australian travel insurance companies imposed deadlines for insurance coverage. Those who purchased insurance after the deadline would not be covered for a potential eruption as it would not have been considered an “unknown event”.

But on October 30, Travel Insurance Direct was the first insurer to once again offering travellers coverage in the event of any new eruption or volcanic activity.

“With a TID policy in your pocket if Mt Agung roars back into life and causes your holiday to be cancelled, or strands you in Bali, you’ll have an avenue to make a claim,” Phil Sylvester from Travel Insurance Direct said.

“But make sure you read and understand your policy, its limits and exclusions before making a purchase.”

On November 2, InsureandGo said it was “now covering travellers who have purchased travel insurance with a natural disaster add-on should they experience any issues with the eruption or volcanic activity of Mount Agung”.

It continued: “Travellers will be covered if travel insurance was purchased before 20 September at 8.20pm AEST or after 31 October at 3.20am AEST. We encourage every passenger to purchase the right level of travel insurance when booking their trip.”

Agung is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes because of its location on the so-called “Ring of Fire” — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

Another volcano, Mount Sinabung on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, has been erupting sporadically since 2010, sometimes blasting volcanic ash several kilometres into the air and forcing more than 30,000 to evacuate their villages.

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