Mount Agung is so large that an eruption would affect not only the island’s residents but the entire world, according to climate scientists: A massive expulsion of smoke and ash could cool the planet and help slow global warming by releasing large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. Such particles could reflect sunlight away from the earth for a year or more, as occurred with the eruptions of Mount Agung in 1963 and of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, 1,650 miles north, in 1991.
Bali is often called a tourist island because of its many resorts and attractions, but it is home to more than 4 million people, most of them Hindus, like Mr. Negara.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed more than 1,000 people. This time, the government has ordered that residents evacuate every village within six miles of the mountain’s summit. About 100,000 people are believed to live in the danger zone.
More than 55,000 people have moved into evacuation camps. Others may have gone to stay with relatives without registering with officials. Many have had to abandon jobs, gardens and livestock.
Despite the scale of the evacuation, its implementation has been haphazard. Some roads leading into the area have no checkpoints — or police officers on duty — to stop people from passing through.
Many residents go home regularly to feed their animals and check on their homes before returning to the camps at night.
Within the evacuation zone, gray ash covers bushes, walls and buildings. The scent of sulfur is heavy in the air. Schools are empty and dogs roam the streets. Occasionally, a motorcycle rider wearing a face mask drives by.
In Bhuana Giri, about four-and-a-half miles from the summit, several villagers had returned to their homes and jobs.
Kadek Sariyani, 41, had reopened her warung, a small shop where she sells drinks and food to residents who venture back to their homes during the day. Before Mount Agung began rumbling, she could earn more than $20 a day. Now, she makes about $7.
“I know this area is prone to disaster and according to the government we are not supposed to be here,” she said. “But I need to feed my pigs and chickens. I cannot leave them starving.”
Wayan Sukarya, 46, a resident of Bhuana Giri who stopped by the shop, said he had been unable to find work as a day laborer since he was evacuated in September. He also returns to the village every day.
“My animals are my assets, that’s why I have to take really good care of them,” he said. “It is like I live here in the daytime, and go back to the camp when it is dark.”
Lt. Col. Benny Rahadian, the commander of the Mount Agung disaster relief task force, acknowledged the evacuation was incomplete. But, he said, he sympathized with residents who had nothing but their homes and small farms.
“We can’t say they could not go back to their village,” he said. “We will warn them, persuade them.”
Many residents fled their homes in September when the ground began shaking and officials said that a major eruption was imminent. After six weeks, the danger seemed to have passed and many returned home.
On Monday, officials sounded the alarm again when the volcano erupted, belching huge volumes of steam and ash.
Ngurah Rai International Airport was forced to close for three days because of the ash cloud, stranding thousands of tourists.
But since then, Mount Agung has settled down. The airport has reopened and residents are waiting to learn when they can safely return home.
Nengah Wadi, 38, has been camping out with eight family members at the Pasar Seni camp in Manggis.
“It is a very difficult situation for everybody,” she said. “But at the same time, we are thankful that we have a roof to cover our heads and have food three times daily.”
The family spent more than five weeks in a camp in September when it first appeared Mount Agung would erupt.
This week, they evacuated immediately when the air filled with ash and sulfur and they feared that mud and volcanic debris would begin flowing down the mountain.
“It feels like being in a prison,” she said. “You can go anywhere you want actually. But at the same time you keep worrying about your house, your animals, and not knowing when you can return to your own home.”
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