Stellenbosch student tells of volcano eruption panic in Bali

27 November 2017 - 14:02 By Petru Saal
Tourists try to get flights at Denpasar International Airport in Bali on Monday.
Tourists try to get flights at Denpasar International Airport in Bali on Monday.
Image: Lara Peach

Stellenbosch University student Lara Peach was among thousands of tourists clamouring to leave Bali ahead of an anticipated volcanic eruption on Monday.

Tens of thousands of people were stranded on the island after the country’s airport was temporarily closed‚ disrupting more than 400 flights‚ as ash spewed from Mount Agung.

“All flights in Bali cancelled‚ airport is sheer chaos and no one knows anything - other than the anticipation of a bigger eruption. Not a good end to a holiday‚” the second-year humanities student said in a post on Facebook.

Authorities‚ fearing a massive eruption‚ are in the process of evacuating up to 100‚000 residents in the 10km exclusion zone around the volcano.

Peach told TimesLIVE on Monday that the situation was tense. “It is also the first time I have travelled overseas alone (without my family). We are all exhausted from the stress and adrenalin. People looked incredibly worried‚ dishevelled and annoyed at the airport. I know that I cried‚ but I did not pay much attention to the others. I just wanted to get out‚” she said.


She and three friends spent months planning a trip to Bali. But their nine days of bliss ended on a chaotic note. They were supposed to fly home on Monday evening.

Describing the scene at Ngurah Rai International Airport‚ also known as Denpasar International Airport‚ she said that people were worried and stressed because flights were grounded.

“We have been moved to the Melia Bali hotel in Nusa Dua for the night‚ after waiting for two hours at the airport. It was chaos at the airport‚ with all airlines opening information desks at the lower level‚ as well as a consulate with EU flags‚” said Peach.

Adding to her anxiety is the prospect of not arriving home in time to write exams.

“I have to write an exam on Wednesday‚ two on Thursday‚ and one on Friday. One exam is a rewrite‚ and the other three are second opportunity exams I chose. If all had gone according to plan‚ I would be back in time to write all three‚ but now I am unsure‚” said Peach.

“What I am most worried about is the fact that the university refuses to make any exceptions. They have informed me that I will immediately fail any module that I do not write the exam for. What they don't seem to understand is that it is an absolute natural disaster. If I do not write these exams‚ I will fail the year. So‚ in the past 12 or so hours‚ I have had to deal with the stress of possible danger and the possibility of failing‚ for something completely out of my control‚” she said.

-Video posted to YouTube by The Guardian