More airports closed as Indonesia volcano eruption spreads ash to Malaysia

Eruptions of a remote Indonesian volcano caused the closure of more than a dozen airports, with ash spreading as far as Malaysia, officials said Wednesday, as authorities scrambled to evacuate hundreds due to tsunami worries.

Mount Ruang erupted three times on Tuesday, sending lava and ash more than five kilometers (three miles) into the sky and prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders for 12,000 residents.

Because of a warning that portions of the volcano could fall into the sea and produce a tsunami, a rescue ship and a warship were despatched to assist in transporting hundreds from neighboring Tagulandang island north to Siau island.

Rosalin Salindeho, a 95-year-old inhabitant of Tagulandang in Indonesia’s far-flung North Sulawesi province, expressed her concerns when Ruang erupted after landing in Siau.

More airports closed as Indonesia volcano eruption spreads ash to Malaysia

“The mountain has exploded. Wow, it was bad. There was a downpour of rocks. Twice. “The second one was really heavy; even houses far away were hit,” she explained.

On Wednesday morning, the country’s meteorological service (BMKG) posted a map showing volcanic ash had spread as far as eastern Malaysia on Borneo island, which it shares with Indonesia and Brunei.

According to a notice from state-run air traffic control operator AirNav Indonesia, the spread of volcanic ash caused the closure of seven airports, including the largest in the province capital Manado and the city of Gorontalo.

On Wednesday morning, Julius Ramopolii, head of Mount Ruang’s monitoring site, reported that the volcano was still spewing ash and smoke above the crater.

“The volcano is visibly seen, the plume of smoke is visible, grey and thick, and reached 500-700 metres (2,300 feet) above the crater,” he said in a press release.

He said the warning level remained at the highest of a four-tiered system and urged residents to stay outside of a seven-kilometer exclusion zone.

Recent events fueled tsunami worries.

Mount Anak Krakatoa’s crater, located between the Java and Sumatra islands, partially collapsed in 2018 after a big eruption blasted massive portions of the volcano into the ocean, producing a tsunami that killed over 400 people and injured hundreds.

Indonesia, a huge archipelago nation, is subject to regular seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

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