Exclusive–Governor of Bali: ‘I guarantee there will be no victims from the volcano’

Bali Gov. I Made Mangku Pastika and the peak of Mount Agung. (Big League Politics composite by Neil W. McCabe)

The governor of the Indonesian province of Bali told Big League Politics that he guaranteed that there will be no victims if the island’s Mount Agung continues to smoke and shake, signs of a possible eruption.

Gov. I Made Mangku Pastika said he has ordered the evacuation of all 28 villages in the danger zone and there are now more than 144,000 refugees, who are now housed in tents, sporting facilities, and private homes. “We consider the refugees like brothers and sisters—and they are fine.”

The governor said the many of the refugees do not actually live near the volcano. “They are in a panic.”

Pastika said his message to Balinese people living in the United States is to relax. “Stay calm. Nothing bad is going to happen. Don’t worry.” The governor has evacuated everyone living within a 12-kilometer radius of the mountain.

“I guarantee there will be no victims from the volcano,” he said.

The governor said in addition to providing shelters for the refugees, he has set up kitchen and feeding facilities, each capable of feeding tens of thousands.

Mount Agung is the dominant feature on the east end of the island and the nearly 10,000-foot mountain is considered extremely sacred for the Hindus, who make up the clear majority of the island population.

In the days since tremors near the mountain became more frequent and stronger in the second week of September.

Pastika, who has been the governor since 2008, said he was a 12-year-boy when the volcano last erupted in 1963, followed by smaller eruptions into 1964.

“It was a long time ago and the situation is very different,” he said. “At that time there were no cars, no communications, no electricity—and no information about the volcanology, or whatever,” he said.

“One thousand people were killed because there was no notification and because of the belief of the people the volcano will not erupt after they came and performed ceremonies with the music and everything,” he said.

“I will always remember that suddenly, the day became dark and there was a lot of ash and dust covering everything,” Pastika said.

“That eruption was considered big because it had been more than 100 years, since the last eruption,” he said.

“But, now? It is just 54 years ago,” he said.

“We cannot compare all those things that happened in 1963,” he said.

“We are so developed now,” he said.

“Now we have thousands of refugees and they are going in their own cars,” the governor said.

Another major difference between 2017 and 1963 is the coordination between the provincial, local and national government, through the National Disaster Coordination Board, he said.

The governor said he has not been in contact with the American government because the preparations have been so complete, there is no need to go outside the country for help. “For the time being, we can handle it by ourselves.”






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