February 14, 2014

Mass Evacuation In Indonesia As Java volcano Erupts

Residents wore masks to protect themselves from the dust and ash in the air A woman gestures during the evacuation in Malang, East Java province, Indonesia, on 14 February 2014
Residents wore masks to protect themselves from the dust and ash in the air
A woman gestures during the evacuation in Malang, East Java province, Indonesia, on 14 February 2014

Thousands of people are evacuating their homes in Indonesia after a volcano erupted in east Java.

Mount Kelud spewed ash and debris over a large area, including the city of Surabaya, about 130km (80 miles) away.

Two people died after their houses collapsed under the weight of ash, officials said. Some towns were said to be covered by 4cm (1.6 in) of ash.

Three major airports in Surabaya, Solo and Yogyakarta were forced to shut down because of low visibility.

There are also fears that debris could damage aircraft engines.

Andi Wirson, general manager at the Yogyakarta airport, said: “The current conditions are that volcanic ash is now covering the runway, apron and tarmac. We have already measured the thickness of the volcanic ash, which is at 5cm on the runway and tarmac.”

Officials raised an alert on Thursday around an hour before the volcano erupted, and urged around people living in 36 villages in a 10km (6 mile) radius around the volcano to evacuate.

ndonesia’s disaster agency on Friday said that more than 100,000 people had evacuated to temporary shelters.

Many in Indonesia are quite used to volcanic eruptions, and are reluctant to leave their homes and belongings, correspondents say.

Around 200,000 people were ordered to evacuated their homes
Around 200,000 people were ordered to evacuated their homes

Officials said two people died after their homes, which appeared to have weak structures, could not withstand the weight of gravel and ash, and caved in.

Some of the evacuees tried to visit their houses on Friday morning to gather clothing and valuables, but were forced to turn back by the continuous stream of volcanic ash and rocks from the volcano, AFP news agency reported.

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