At least three persons have been killed following a volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s main island of Java on Friday, which forced hundreds of thousand of residents to flee their homes.
Four international airports were forced to close as volcanic ash reduced visibility in the cities of Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Solo after the eruption of Mount Kelud in East Java province.
Surabaya is Indonesia’s second largest city and Yogyakarta is the country’s second tourism destination after Bali.
“Volcanic ash is covering the airports and it’s too dangerous for flights. At least 200 domestic and international flights were cancelled,” spokesman for the Transportation ministry, Bambang Ervan, said.
The airport in the Central Java capital Semarang was also closed later in the day.
Reports say television footage showed aircraft and streets covered with thick ash.
The government raised the volcano’s alert to the highest level and declared a 10-kilometre exclusion zone, where 200,000 people live.
“It appears that the volcano’s activity is decreasing, adding that residents were in urgent need of face masks. Another major eruption was unlikely,” a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, Sutopo Nugroho said.
The 1,731-metres Mount Kelud in East Java last erupted in 2007. A bigger eruption in 1990 killed more than 30 people. There are nearly 130 active volcanoes across the Indonesian archipelago.
Reports also say that in North Sumatra province, 17 people were killed earlier this month following eruptions at Mount Sinabung.