Indonesia Shuts Airport After Java Volcano Erupts

March 3, 2020 Updated: March 3, 2020
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Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupted on the morning of March 3, sending a 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) column of ash into the air and triggering the closure of the airport in the nearby city of Solo on the densely populated Java island, authorities said.

The volcano, located near the cities of Yogyakarta and Solo, is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes and a series of eruptions in 2010 killed more than 350 people.

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Motorists ride their motorbikes as volcanic ash engulfs a road following the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano in Boyolali, Central Java province, Indonesia, on March 3, 2020. (Antara Foto/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho/via Reuters)

Indonesia’s Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation issued a red alert and said the ash cloud was moving north.

The international airport in Solo had been temporarily shut since 9:25 a.m. local time, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. Four flights had been affected.

The local disaster mitigation agency warned people to keep out of a 3-kilometer exclusion zone around Merapi.

“Outside a 3-kilometer radius it’s still safe,” Biwara Yuswantana, the head of Yogyakarta’s disaster mitigation agency, told Reuters. The city is located about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the volcano.

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A motorist covers his face while riding a motorbike following the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano in Boyolali, Central Java province, Indonesia, on March 3, 2020. (Antara Foto/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho/ via Reuters)

The latest eruption, part of a series that started in 2018, sent up a column of ash that affected several neighboring areas, the country’s Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center said in a statement.

It said the eruption lasted almost 8 minutes and warned of a risk of further eruptions due to continuing movements of magma. The 2,930-meter (9,612.86-foot) volcano is a popular site for tourists and its fertile soil is also farmed.

By Stanley Widianto and Bernadette Christina