'Matter of hours' before Bali volcano erupts, says Indonesian government

In a statement on its website it said an increase in the frequency of the tremors indicated magma was moving towards the surface, and that the "number of quake events is greater than ever".

The national disaster agency said in a statement on Tuesday that more than 75,600 people had now moved out of their homes in the danger zone.

The Indonesian national disaster agency (BNPB) said there had been more than 560 deep volcanic earthquakes recorded on Monday alone.

Speaking in Klungkung district, President Joko Widodo told evacuees the government would do its best to reduce economic losses incurred during the evacuation. It may remain there and slowly cool to form an intrusion (most typical scenario) or could lead to an eruption an time.

Mount Agung volcano is seen in Amed, Bali on September 26. "There is no volcanologist in the world who could predict precisely when a volcano will erupt", Syahbana said. The airport remains open, although there are plans in place if the volcano does erupt.

"Mount Agung is entering a critical phase", Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a statement issued on September 26 after the government raised the status of the 3,031-meter-high volcano on September 22 following an increase in volcanic activity.

"There will definitely be an impact on (sales of) tour packages but we don't know the figures yet", said Agustinus Pake Seko of PT Bayu Buana travel agency.

The latest Foreign Office advice to Britons planning to visit the region says that Indonesia's volcanic alert level indicates "an eruption is possible in the next 24 hours".

Authorities have been watching the volcano closely, and have so far urged tens of thousands of residents to flee the area with warnings of an "imminent" eruption.

"No eruption. That is my prayer", she said.

Mount Agung is located 72 kilometres from the popular tourist destination Kuta and is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

In the event of an eruption and ash clouds that could disrupt air travel, authorities have made preparations for flights to be diverted to seven regional airports, including on Java and Lombok islands.

  • Joey Payne