Ghostly Photos of Villages Abandoned During a Volcanic Eruption

A look at what it's like to live in the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

by Tio Rompis
Oct 5 2017, 8:30pm

All photos by author

This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.

The 28 villages in a seven-mile danger zone surrounding Bali's Mount Agung were still empty on Tuesday as disaster officials warned that the volcano's eruption was imminent. Tremors bought the volcano back to life for the first time last month after more than a half-century's sleep. The last time it blew, back in 1963, it left 200 dead and displaced thousands for almost an entire year.

This time, the local government isn't taking any chances. An estimated 140,000 people have already evacuated their villages, crowding into temporary shelters as the tremors continued to shake the island.

But local residents say they can't stay away from their villages for too long. Farmers have already started to return to tend to their cattle, despite the risk. And others are now making the trip during work hours to return to the shelter at night under the mistaken belief that they will be able to outrun the volcanic ash cloud—which can move in excess of 200 MPH—as long as they are awake.

We sent a photographer to capture the eerie abandoned streets of Besakih village, in Karangasem district, and document the lives of those who just can't stay away.