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Jakarta Post

Mt. Kelud eruption paralyzes Java

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 15, 2014   /  07:17 am
Mt. Kelud eruption paralyzes Java Ash storm: A woman walks on a volcanic-ash-covered road in Yogyakarta, about 240 kilometers west of Mount Kelud, which erupted late on Thursday. The ash spewed by the East Java volcano shrouded a large swath of the country’s most densely populated island on Friday, closed three international airports and sent thousands fleeing their homes. (AP/Slamet Riyadi) (AP/Slamet Riyadi)

Apart from Jakarta, all airports on the island of Java were completely closed on Friday following the eruption of Mount Kelud in East Java on Thursday night.

Airport authorities said they could only hope that air traffic would return to normal on Saturday.

The volcano spewed between 120 and 160 million cubic meters of volcanic materials 17 kilometers into the air. The ash and dust spread as far as Sukabumi, which is only 120 kilometers from Jakarta.

Three residents were killed, and at least 70,000 villagers fled from their homes in Kediri and other places, while tens of thousands of people were seriously affected by the eruption in several cities in East Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta and West Java.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho identified the dead victims as Mbok Nya, 60, Sahiri, 70, and Sanusi, 80. They were residents of Malang regency.

The ash has paralyzed Yogyakarta and a number of cities across the neighboring province of Central Java, namely Surakarta, Sukoharjo, Karanganyar, Wonogiri, Sragen and Klaten on Friday.

The newly appointed head of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry'€™s Geology Agency, and internationally acclaimed volcanologist, Surono, predicted that the eruptions would in all likelihood stop after three days, which he described as '€œconsistent with its previous history'€.

Speaking in Jakarta Surono, however, warned that this year'€™s eruption by Kelud could be more catastrophic than the eruption of Mout Merapi in Yogyakarta in 2010.

Surono said that Kelud, which in Javanese means '€œbroom'€, was on the world'€™s deadliest volcano list and was more dangerous than Merapi. '€œIf we look at back in the history of this volcano, it discharged at least 200 million cubic meters of ash in only two days while Merapi [in 2010] sent up 150 million cubic meters of ash over the course of a month,'€ he told The Jakarta Post on Friday, adding that the data came from Kelud'€™s eruptions in 1919, 1966 and 1990.

Separately Kediri Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said they had evacuated everyone within a 10-kilometer radius of Kelud.

The unit'€™s spokesperson, Andri, said over 66,000 evacuees had been sent to secure locations. They are from the subdistricts of Ngancar, Kepung, Puncu and Plosoklaten and are being looked after in 117 evacuation centers.

In total, more than 90,000 people have been evacuated from the hazardous zones in Kediri, Blitar, Tulungagung and Malang regencies. They are being accommodated in 158 evacuation centers in total.

However, some villagers have decided to return home as they saw signs that the eruptions were abating.

'€œI just need to go home for a while to see my house and feed my cows,'€ Hari Purwanto, 39, of Kali Bladak village, Nglegok district, Blitar regency, said.

When the volcano began erupting on Thursday night, Hari and some 14,000 other evacuees from other subdistricts were moved from their homes.

East Java Governor Soekarwo said his administration had prepared posts in the three regencies of Kediri, Blitar and Malang and that aid had been distributed to the posts.

'€œThis morning, the President has ordered the evacuation of people living within a 10-kilometer radius [of Kelud]. What the evacuees need at present are staple foods, clean water and sanitation facilities,'€ Soekarwo said.

In Surabaya, communications and legal section head of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I Juanda, Andrias Yustinian, said Juanda International Airport was closed on Friday and would remain so until at least 6 a.m. on Saturday.

In Yogyakarta, Adisucipto International Airport general manager Andi Wirson said all flights in and out of the airport had been canceled because the airport had been blanketed by 2 centimeters of ash.

The situation was similar at Adi Soemarmo Airport in Surakarta, Ahmad Yani Airport in Semarang and Husein Sastranegara Airport in Bandung, West Java.