The ash cloud from Thursday night's eruption of Mount Kelud in the
province of East Java moved west over the island, forcing the
closure of seven airports and stranding thousands of passengers. The
only major airports still operating on Java were two in the capital,
"Based on verified data, over 76,000 people have been evacuated from
five cities around the volcano ... and about 200,000 people were
affected," National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo
Nugroho said in a text message.
Mount Kelud is 90 km (54 miles) south of Indonesia's second biggest
city Surabaya, a major industrial center. Its airport was closed,
along with those of Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Malang, Semarang and
the major oil refinery town of Cilacap.
They were expected to reopen on Saturday morning, a transport
ministry official told reporters.
Mount Kelud is one of 130 active volcanoes in the world's fourth
most populous country, which sits along the "Ring of Fire" volcanic
belt around the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Nugroho said the eruptions had ceased, but the ash had spread as far
as 500 km (312 miles) to the west and northwest.
Television broadcast images of planes, streets and houses blanketed
in a thick layer of grey ash.
At the world's largest Buddhist temple outside Yogyakarta, nearly
135 km (84 miles) away, workers rushed to cover statues with plastic
sheets to protect them from the falling ash.
Other airports, including Denpasar on the resort island of Bali,
were so far unaffected, according to flag carrier Garuda Indonesia.
OIL REFINERY UNAFFECTED
Operations were unaffected at a major oil refinery in Cilacap run by
state-owned energy company Pertamina, officials said. The refinery,
with a capacity of 348,000 barrels per day, accounts for a little
more than a third of Indonesia's total output of refined products.
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"Thankfully, Cilacap operations are normal, although ash has indeed
reached the Cilacap area," said Pertamina spokesman Ali Mundakir.
"As a preventive measure, we have immediately prepared air filters
for equipment there."
East Java is the main area in Indonesia for sugarcane plantations,
but officials expected limited damage to crops.
"The eruption will affect sugarcane plantations, but the impact is
small," Soemitro Samadikoen, chairman of Indonesian Sugarcane
Farmers Association told Reuters. "With this very small impact and
high stock (in the domestic market) we do not need to import white
sugar from other countries."
Nugroho said the disaster mitigation agency had confirmed two people
were killed after roofs collapsed under the weight of the fallen
The eruption otherwise caused minimal damage to buildings, Nugroho
said, but had left 3 to 5 cm (1-1/2 to 2 inches) of ash and sand on
At least 11 people were killed earlier this month in the north of
the island of Sumatra when Mount Sinabung erupted. The volcano has
been spewing lava and ash for months, forcing thousands to flee the
area and destroying crops.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wrote in a Twitter message that
he planned to visit the area near the volcano, but gave no further
(Additional reporting by Yayat Supriatna, Fathiyah Darul, Wilda
Asmarini and Christania Astri; writing by Jonathan Thatcher; editing
by Clarence Fernandez)
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