Authorities on the Indonesian island of Bali on Saturday asked thousands of people who had evacuated this week because of the threat of a volcanic eruption from Mount Agung to return home.
A statement by the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management said 70,000 evacuated residents of the 27 villages within the designated “danger zone” around the long-dormant volcano should stay put, but as many as 73,000 people from 51 villages outside that zone could safely go home.
The agency said the extra people were placing an undue burden on the nearly 500 shelters set up by the government for those whose homes are in the danger zone.
The danger zone is based on damage from Mount Agung’s last major eruption, which killed more than 1,700 people and destroyed about that many homes in 1963.
Seismic activity at that volcano has been detected since August, and the alert level has been raised to 4, the highest level available on the Indonesian scale.
The vast archipelago of Indonesia is located along the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, a seismically active line of faults where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.