Volcanic eruption in Indonesia shuts down three airports

13 February 2014 (Last Updated February 13th, 2014 18:30)

A volcanic eruption in Java has spewed ash and sand over a large area, forcing the closure of three Indonesian airports.

A volcanic eruption in Java has spewed ash and sand over a large area, forcing the closure of three Indonesian airports.

The eruption occurred on 13 February on Mount Kelud, the 1,731m mountain located 85 miles south of Indonesia's second biggest city, Surabaya, sending millions of cubic metres of dust and rocks into the atmosphere.

As a result, roofs of some houses reportedly collapsed under the debris, while ash up to an inch covered of Surabaya as well as other areas, forcing motorists to switch on headlight in daylight.

"Jogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya airports were closed due to reduced visibility."

Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said: "Jogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya airports were closed due to reduced visibility and the dangers posed to aircraft engines by ash."

Airlines operating in the countries surrounding Indonesia announced that they were cancelling flights to the affected areas and also locations further afield including Bali, Christmas Island and the Cocos over fears that the volcanic ash cloud could result in safety issues.

Virgin Australia noted that it had cancelled all its Friday flights to Bali, Phuket, Christmas Island and Cocos Island because of the eruption.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said that the ash cloud was dissipating and the volcano was no longer erupting.

Many of the 200,000 people living within 10km of Kelud who had evacuated are returning to their homes to clean up, according to the authorities.

There are reports that two people died as a result of the eruption, but these have not yet been verified by officials.

Mt Kelud is one of nearly 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, with an estimated 200,000 people living within a six-mile radius.