The Indonesian Vulcanology Office issued a warning on Thursday for the public to take extra caution when visiting Mount Tangkuban Perahu just northwest of Bandung in West Java, after a series of tremors shook the mountain and put officials on edge.
“Tourist operators and tourists should understand that no matter how sophisticated the equipment, it’s useless if the warnings are not heeded,” Surono, the head of the Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Agency (PVMBG) said.
Surono said that from 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday up until 4:20 a.m. on Thursday, a series of tremors shook the mountain, while poisonous gases seeped from the crater.
“Those inhaling the gas [will] not die . . . but can suffer from dizziness and nausea; therefore, we are recommending no activity whatsoever be held within a radius of 1.5 kilometers from the crater,” Surono said.
He said that the carbon monoxide released by the Ratu crater had already reached 2 percent, putting the level in the “dangerous category” according to international standards, Surono said.
The recommendation to clear the top of the mountain had already been sent to the governor and the local district chief, Surono added.
“However, the matter of closing the tourist area is not within my authority,” he said.
He said that even though any temporary closure of the Tangkuban Perahu may cause some losses in terms of revenues, human casualties should obviously be prevented.
“If it is just plants or animal, the losses can be replaced, but if it concerns the life of people, we need to apply the worst-case scenario,” Surono said.
The 2,084 meter high Tangkuban Perahu is just 30 kilometers northwest of Bandung, and is a popular touristic destination with an asphalted road leading directly to the crater. It last erupted in 1983, but claimed no victims and caused no substantial damage.