merapi eruption spews ash 6km into air triggers flight warning - Merapi eruption spews ash 6km into air, triggers flight warning

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted yesterday morning, sending a column of steam and ash more than 6km into the air and prompting a flight warning.

In response to the code-red warning, the Adi Soemarmo airport in Solo, Central Java, was shut for about six hours.

The 2,968m-tall volcano, among the most active in the country, is located around 30km from the city of Yogyakarta in the country’s most densely populated island of Java.

The volcano had registered a string of eruptions in 2010, which killed more than 350 people and affected nearby regions in Central Java.

The Centre for Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development said on its Twitter account that the eruption was recorded at 5.22am Jakarta time (4.22am Singapore time) for 450 seconds, with ash fall seen within a 10km radius of the peak.

“Hot air clouds fell in the direction of Gendol River within a maximum distance of 2km,” it said in its tweet.

However, the agency maintained the volcano’s status at the “alert” level, or Level Two, out of four levels. The status has not changed since May 2018.

Residents in the surrounding areas were advised against hiking and other activities within 3km of the volcano’s peak.

In response to the code-red warning, state-owned air navigation company AirNav Indonesia announced its decision to shut the Adi Soemarmo airport at 9.10am local time. “The airport’s closure for civil aviation is caused by the ash from Mount Merapi,” AirNav said in a statement.

The airport reopened at about 3.30pm.

News agency Antara reported that residents in nearby areas, such as the Selo district in Boyolali, in Central Java, continued with their daily activities, including farming and attending school, despite the eruption.

Klakah village chief Marwoto said thick smoke could be seen from his village, which is about 3km from Mount Merapi. Residents were forced to move to the highest point in the village, which was not affected by the ash.

“Residents remain alert although they are continuing with their activities as usual,” he said.

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