Bali volcano: Locals recall 'Mount Agung spewing fire, rocks, hot ashes' in deadly 1963 eruption

Bali volcano: Locals recall 'Mount Agung spewing fire, rocks, hot ashes' in deadly 1963 eruption

Bali volcano: Locals recall 'Mount Agung spewing fire, rocks, hot ashes' in deadly 1963 eruption

Updated 27 September 2017, 19:10 AEST

Veterans of the last catastrophic eruption of Mount Agung in Bali in 1963 are among the 75,000 locals living in evacuation centres as the volcano rumbles.

Among the 75,000 evacuees from Bali's rumbling Mount Agung are veterans of the volcano's last catastrophic explosion.

Then, in 1963, more than 1,000 people died — and the memory of that panicked exodus is a strong argument for the current evacuation.

"There was [a] rain of ashes," 70-year-old Nyoman Smah, who was 16 then, said.

"I wore a hat, but it was too big and heavy because of the ashes, so took it off.

"I turned my head around and heard the thundery sound of Mount Agung, spewing fire and rocks and hot ashes.

"Those rocks and ashes fell to the eastern river and started flowing down.

"My hand was grabbed by my mother whose arm was broken, she was also carrying my brother.

"I was just following my parents.

"I didn't feel afraid because I didn't know what [was happening]. I didn't know fear."

Another 1963 veteran, I Kembar, escaped from the village of Kunyit, 3 kilometres from the top of the mountain.

He is now living in an evacuation centre about 15 kilometres from Mount Agung, along with about 600 of his former neighbours and his cat, Putih.

"I've been with the cat from the old days," he said.

He did not want to lose Putih in the evacuation centre.

"I take him when I sleep, when I take shower," he said.

How did he feel to be leaving his home?

Mr Kembar answered:

"He was sad. 'Meow, meow', that's what he said."

Your feelings, Mr Kembar — not the cat's …

"I'm sad," he said.

Depression a problem for locals trapped from livelihoods

The evacuees from Mount Agung are living in about 400 emergency shelters set up across Bali — and they are likely to be there for some time.

If the mountain keeps rumbling, the evacuation order will not be lifted.

If it erupts with any force, these people could be here for months.

The last time the mountain blew, eruptions continued for a year.

Depression induced by boredom is one of the biggest problems.

Temporary schools are being set up nearby to keep the children busy — but there is not much help for adults who are trapped away from their fields and livelihoods.

"I feel sad, so sad, I cannot even talk about it," Ni Ketut Sri Astini said.

"I can smile now, but I've been very sad."

Medical staff assigned to the shelters have been helping treat the sick — at this stage, mostly the very young and the very old.

With hundreds of people living under one roof, viruses have been spreading quickly already.

Midwife Pande Putu Nancy Pratiwi, who was doing the rounds in one evacuation centre, said she had seen lots of children with flu and fever.

"There are problems here because of air quality and cleanliness," she said.

"Because it's dirty, it's affecting the health of babies and children under five."