Indonesian airports reopen after Java volcano eruption

BBC reporter Alice Budisatrijo: "Authorities are still imposing a 10km exclusion zone around the area of the volcano"

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Several airports have reopened on the Indonesian island of Java after being forced to close following the eruption of a volcano.

Correspondents say air quality has improved across Java, but cities and villages are still covered in a layer of dust and ash.

Tens of thousands remain in shelters, facing medicine and blanket shortages.

Mount Kelud, in Java's east, spewed ash and debris over a large area on Friday, killing three people.

The volcano had been rumbling for several weeks before it erupted.

Authorities said they were not expecting another major tremor, because the patterns showed volcanoes tended to quieten down after a large eruption.

Stream of ash

The transport ministry said airports in Malang, Cilacap and Semarang reopened on Saturday.

"We are now evaluating the status of other airports," spokesman Bambang Ervan said.

Volcanic ash blankets Yogyakarta in Central Java (14 February 2014) Motorists were covered with ash as they travelled through the city of Yogyakarta
A man wears a mask as he rides a rickshaw on a road covered with ash from Mount Kelud, in Yogyakarta, 14 February 2014 Residents wore masks to protect themselves from the dust and ash in the air
Mother and child in a temporary shelter in Malang district (14 February 2014) Tens of thousands have been forced to seek refuge in temporary shelters
Mount Kelud (14 February 2014) Mount Kelud erupted after rumbling for several weeks

The airports shut down because of low visibility. There were also fears that debris could damage aircraft engines.

Some 75,000 people are estimated to have sought refuge in temporary shelters.

Recent Indonesian eruptions

  • Mt Rokatenda on Palue island erupted in August, killing six people
  • Mt Sinabung on Sumatra island erupted in February 2014, killing 14
  • Mt Merapi on Java island killed 353 people in a series of eruptions in 2010.

Many are unable to return to their homes because authorities have kept a 10km exclusion zone in place around the volcano, the BBC's Alice Budisatrijo reports from the capital, Jakarta.

Our correspondent says the volcano alert remains at the highest level because officials do not want to take any chances.

Officials raised an alert on Thursday about an hour before the volcano erupted.

They urged people living in 36 villages within 10km of the volcano to evacuate.

Officials said two people died when their homes caved in under the weight of gravel and ash.

A 70-year-old man was killed when a wall collapsed while he was waiting to be evacuated.

Some of the evacuees tried to visit their houses on Friday morning to gather their possessions, but were forced to turn back by the stream of volcanic ash and rocks from the volcano.

new map

The volcano last erupted in 1990, killing dozens of people. A powerful eruption in 1919 killed around 5,000 people.

Indonesia lies across a series of geological fault-lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

There are about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

Earlier this month, Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra erupted, killing at least 14 people.

Are you in Java? How have you been affected by the eruption of the volcano? Send your stories to with the heading Java.

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