An American tourist has died after falling into a ravine along the trekking route of the sacred Mount Agung in Bali. The incident occurred during the descent from the summit, where he and his guide had watched the sunrise.
Teams from the Karangasem Search and Rescue team were immediately deployed to the scene. Though the tourist, known by his initials KLH, was alive when he was found, he passed away from his injuries shortly after.
KLH is reported to have set off on the trek with his guide, I Gede Riasa, at around 11 pm on Thursday, 17th November. Together they reached the summit at around 5 am on Friday morning, and after enjoying the sunrise together, they began their descent at around 6 am. Shortly after leaving the sacred mountain peak, LKH fell 8-meters into a ravine after losing his footing on a slippery section of the trial at 2,350 above sea level.
There have also been suggestions of rapidly changing weather conditions on the mountain too. It is reported that he broke his right leg at the knee, broke his wrist, and suffered serious injuries to his neck and skull. His guide, Riasa, immediately alerted the Karangasem Search and Rescue Post.
Upon receiving the call, the Karangasem Search and Rescue Post was deployed. In total, three search and rescue units were deployed throughout the day until team three located KLH at around 1.30 pm. Though he received medical treatment as soon as he was found, KLH was sadly declared dead at 2 pm. This lead the Karangasem Search and Rescue teams to begin the coordination of the evacuation of his body. The recovery mission took a further 13 hours due to the position where he fell.
KLH was first taken to Rendang Health Center and was then taken to rest at Karangasem Hospital. KLH is the fourth person to have died on Mount Agung since 2008. As Mount Agung is a place of deep spiritual significance to Balinese people, the community is now in the process of conducting cleaning ceremonies to restore balance.
Other victims who have died while trekking the Pengubengan Besakih Temple route include Muhammad Iqbal, 21, a student at Widyatama University in Bandung, who died in January 2008. The second victim was Monieb Setiabudi, 24, who also fell to his death in May 2009. More recently, a French tourist, Dominique Marle, 73, died on the trail on Friday, 3 December 2021.
Shortly after KLH’s death was confirmed, Besakih Traditional Village Chief Jro Mangku Widiarta was informed. Due to the sacred nature of Mount Agung, the recovery of KLH’s body had to be performed in accordance with religious rituals. Widiarta instructed that KHL could not be bought down from the ravine by a stretcher. Rather he had to be carried down, ensuring that his body was level with the knees.
Speaking to local reporters, Widiarta confirmed that traditional cleansing ceremonies would take place over the weekend. He said, “We have held a limited [cleansing ceremony]; we will hold a wider one on Sunday at Pasucian Besakih Temple, [we are] discussing plans to carry out the pabersihan ceremony, and other technical preparations. As for when the ceremony will be held, we are waiting for the results of the Paruman”.
The tragic story of KLH is a timely reminder for all travelers to take extreme caution while trekking on Mount Agung, always enlist the help of a guide, and be ultra-viligant in changing weather conditions. On Friday, 28th October, two British tourists attempted to hike up Mount Agung without the support of a guide and had to be rescued by teams from Karangasem Search and Rescue Post.
Known only by their first names, Liam, 27, and Alex, 19, are believed to have gotten lost on Mount Agung after a change in the weather. Putu Agus Handika Bhayangkara, the SAR Field Coordinator, confirmed that both men were found safe and well after the incident but noted that things could have been very different if help wasn’t swiftly on hand.
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