The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, October 02, 2017, Page Page 5, Image 5

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    ASIA / PACIFIC
October 2, 2017
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 5
Indonesia volcano may erupt explosively or menace for weeks
By Stephen Wright
The Associated Press
ALI, Indonesia — Experts say a
suddenly active volcano on the
Indonesian tourist island of Bali is
more likely to erupt than not.
But because every volcano has its own
unique characteristics, scientists can’t
predict when that will be with total
certainty. It could erupt suddenly or
continue for weeks at its current menacing
level of seismic activity.
What’s led to eruption warnings?
The slow movement of the tectonic
plates that make up the planet’s surface
carries massive quantities of rock deep
into the earth, where they melt. As this
molten magma rises, pressure increases
inside a sealed chamber beneath the
mountain until it explodes.
The type of magma that feeds Mount
Agung traps more gas, which tends to
produce larger eruptions. It’s the rising
volume of magma that is causing hundreds
of tremors being recorded daily around the
mountain.
“The volcano is bulging, causing a large
number of small cracks to form and the
earth to vibrate,” said David Boutelier, a
geologist and expert on plate tectonics at
Australia’s University of Newcastle.
How soon could it erupt?
Disaster officials said instruments
recorded more than 800 volcanic earth-
quakes in late September. Many of the
quakes have been strong enough to be felt
by people in the surrounding region.
In theory, the current level of activity
could go on for some time without an
eruption. It is difficult to predict because
each volcano behaves differently.
“It could continue for the next few days
or weeks, but an eruption could also
happen any time given its condition is very
critical,” said Gede Swantika, head of
volcanology at Indonesia’s Center for
Volcanology and Geological Disaster
Mitigation.
Heather Handley, an earth sciences
specialist
at
Sydney’s
Macquarie
University, said Agung’s last eruption in
1963 was preceded by earthquakes, small
ash eruptions, and lava flow. “It is hard to
know for sure what will happen this time,”
she said.
B
What are the chances it will erupt?
Authorities raised the volcano’s alert
status to the highest level on September 15
and announced a no-go zone that extends
up to 7.5 miles from the crater. More than
130,000 people have fled, including some
who live farther away.
“We could say that the chance of an
eruption is very high, above 50 percent,”
said Swantika.
Entering the exclusion zone would be
extraordinarily risky.
“I would not go now. The activity is too
high and the risk much too large,”
Boutelier said. The pyroclastic flow, a rush
of hot gas, ash, and other volcanic
MOUNTING PRESSURE. A woman works in
a field with Mount Agung in the background in Amed,
Bali, Indonesia. Authorities raised the volcano’s alert
status to the highest level on September 15 and an-
nounced a no-go zone that extends up to 7.5 miles
from the crater. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
material, would “kill everyone in its path
in a few seconds,” he added.
Could the volcano suddenly
go quiet again?
It’s possible the volcano could calm back
down, but that is unlikely without
pressure being released in some way.
Handley said there were signs of activity
such as gas releases and earthquakes in
1989 and swelling of the volcano between
2007 and 2009 without any subsequent
eruptions.
But this time around, the buildup of
activity is much more significant, she said.
“It is unlikely that the volcano goes quiet
without the pressure being released one
way or another,” said Boutelier. “We can
hope for a lava flow, which would allow
pressure to decrease without the hazard of
an explosion.”
Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos
in Jakarta contributed to this report.
U.N. meeting on Myanmar spotlights Security Council divisions
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
U
NITED NATIONS — The U.N.
Security Council’s first open
meeting on Myanmar in eight
years highlighted the body’s deep
divisions: China and Russia supported the
Southeast Asian country’s government
while the U.S., Britain, and France
demanded an end to “ethnic cleansing” of
its Rohingya Muslim minority.
With the number of Rohingyas fleeing to
Bangladesh since August 25 now topping
500,000, U.N. secretary-general Antonio
Guterres urged the U.N.’s most powerful
body to take strong action. He also called
on Myanmar’s authorities to immediately
halt military operations, allow “unfettered
access” for humanitarian aid, and ensure
that all those who fled can return home.
U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, using
Myanmar’s former name of Burma, told
council members: “We cannot be afraid to
call the actions of the Burmese authorities
what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained
campaign to cleanse the country of an
ethnic minority.”
“The time for well-meaning, diplomatic
words in this council has passed,” she said.
“We must now consider action against
Burmese security forces who are
implicated in abuses and stoking hatred
among their fellow citizens.”
Haley urged all countries to suspend the
supply of weapons to the country’s military
until its members are held accountable for
the “brutal assault” on the Rohingyas.
The U.S., Britain, and France were
joined by many council members in
demanding an immediate end to the
violence and a strong council response.
A global coalition of 88 civil society and
human-rights organizations urged the
Security Council to step up pressure on
Myanmar’s authorities “by seriously con-
sidering options such as an arms embargo
against the military and targeted financial
sanctions against individuals responsible
for crimes and serious abuses.”
But the prospect of a strong response
from the council appeared unlikely after
both China and Russia supported the
government’s approach to tackling the
crisis.
China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, whose
country has close ties to Myanmar, urged
the international community “to view the
difficulties and challenges confronting the
government
of
Myanmar
through
objective optics, [exercising] patience, and
[providing] support and help.”
Wu Haitao stressed that “many of the
differences and antagonisms” in Rakhine
state have been building up over a long
time and “there is no quick fix.”
“As we speak, the situation on the
ground is beginning to move toward
stability,” Wu said. “All parties should
work constructively to help reinforce this
momentum, de-escalate the situation, and
alleviate the humanitarian conditions
step-by-step.”
Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vassily
Nebenzia warned that “excessive pres-
sure” on Myanmar’s government “could
only aggravate the situation in the country
and around it.”
Continued on page 7
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