Surakarta airport closes temporarily after Mt. Merapi spews out ash 6,000 meters high

News Desk
The Jakarta Post

Jakarta / Tue, March 3, 2020 / 01:05 pm

Adi Soemarmo International Airport in Surakarta, Central Java, has been temporarily closed following the eruption of Mount Merapi, an official said on Tuesday.

The volcano erupted in the early hours of Tuesday, spewing a 6,000-meter column of ash, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

State-owned air navigation firm AirNav Indonesia has since issued a warning on the latest volcanic activity to pilots passing through the affected areas.

The Transportation Ministry’s air transportation director general, Novie Riyanto, said in a statement that the ministry would continue to monitor the activity of Mount Merapi to ensure aviation safety.

“We will keep observing the latest developments. As for the impact on aviation, so far only [Adi Soemarmo International Airport] in Surakarta is affected; it has since been closed down for the time being. We have re-routed several flights to regions that have yet to be affected by the eruption,” Novie said in a statement on Tuesday.

Adi Soemarmo International Airport will remain closed until 3:30 p.m., the ministry said.

According to the warning issued by AirNav Indonesia, the latest eruption had a maximum amplitude of 75 mm and a duration of 450 seconds.

“We will keep coordinating with AirNav Indonesia, as well as stakeholders in the aviation sector to ensure that flights remain safe and normal,” Novie said.

Volcanic ash from the eruption covered parts of the airport's runway and apron, AirNav Indonesia spokesperson Yohanes Sirait said.

At least six flights have been cancelled so far, he added.

The volcano previously erupted on Feb. 13, spewing a 2,000-meter-high ash column.

Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. An eruption in 2010 left more than 300 people dead and forced almost 400,000 people to take refuge.

Authorities have raised Merapi’s alert level to waspada (caution), the second-highest level in the country’s four-tiered alert system. (rfa)

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest updates from the Transportation Ministry and AirNav Indonesia.