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Indonesia volcano closes airports

February 14, 2014

A powerful eruption on Indonesia's main island, Java, has led to the temporary closure of three international airports. Authorities had called for the evacuation of residents within 10 km of the volcano.

Indonesien Vulkanausbruch auf Java
Image: picture-alliance/AP

Volcano eruption in Indonesia

Mount Kelud erupted on Thursday, spewing volcanic ash into the air of East Java province. Residents in the east coast city of Surabaya, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the volcano reportedly heard the powerful explosion.

The initial blasts sent millions of cubic meters of dust and rocks into the atmosphere.

The 200,000 residents living in close proximity to Mount Kelud had been urged to evacuate.

Two people died when their homes near the volcano collapsed after the eruption, the disaster agency said.

Ash up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) deep covered Surabaya, the country's second-largest city.

The 1,731-meter high peak (5,680 feet) lies roughly 730 kilometers southeast of the capital city Jakarta.

Authorities on Indonesia's main island, Java, closed Surabaya, Jogyakarta, and Surakarta airports. Reduced visibility and ash posed a risk to flight safety, according to transport ministry spokesperson Bambang Ervan.

"Volcanic ash is covering the airports and it's too dangerous for flights," Ervan said.

Airline Virgin Australia said it had cancelled all its Friday flights to Bali, Phuket, Christmas Island and Cocos Island because of the eruption.

Scientists said they did not expect another major eruption and that many of those who did evacuate have returned to their homes to start cleaning up.

Kelud is one of the 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The last major eruption at Kelud was in 1990, when fumes and lava killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds.

kms,jm/crh (AP, dpa)