Mt. Kelud Eruption Update: Surabaya, Bandung, Malang, Cilacap airports Open Today

Saturday, 15 February 2014 | 1200

The second day after its violent eruption, today, 15 February, Mt Kelud’s explosion has abated although showing still high activity. Chief vulcanologist, Surono, warns that although the volcano exploded yesterday and its activities have reduced, people are still prohibited from venturing into the danger zone of 10 km radius from the crater since Kelud might still emit hot pyroclastic clouds. “Let us learn from the recent tragic lesson at Mt. Sinabung in North Sumatra, where 17 people died within the danger zone by this searing hot cloud after Sinabung exploded, thinking it was already safe” advised Surono.


Today, 15 February, 4 of 7 airports on Java that were closed to air traffic because of Mt. Kelud’s eruption will resume operation. These include: Surabaya airport, expected opening at 14.00 hrs, Bandung airport at 12.00 hrs, both West Indonesia Time (WIB), while the smaller airports of Malang in East Java and Cilacap in Central Java are already operational. Yogya's airport is expected to open only on Tuesday, 18 February, while Solo's airport will be operational on Monday, 17 February, with Semarang's still being under consideration.


Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Halim Airport have remained operational throughout yesterday, as were other airports throughout Indonesia, although more than 300 flights are reported to have been canceled, specifically to cities whose airports were closed due to the eruption.


At yesterday’s explosion, Mt.Kelud spewed into the air no less than 150 million cu meters of volcanic materials in one day only, said Surono. This almost equals emission of Mt. Merapi, - the other active volcano in Central Java - of 200 million cu meters which it spewed in one whole month, when it erupted in 2010. And because yesterday’s winds blew south west, the areas in the south of Java were most heavily affected with tons of ash and gravel raining down on Yogya in the central part of Java, reaching even Bandung in West Java. Therefore, cities like Yogya and Solo, closer to the mountain are until today still inches deep covered in volcanic sand including their airports.


Meanwhile, authorities reported that a total of over 76,000 people had been evacuated out of the 10 km radius danger zone, receiving shelter, food and necessities at 172 evacuation centers in a number of towns in East Java. Head of Blitar district said that evacuation could proceed in a fast and relatively orderly way, since it had been well prepared through close coordination among relevant disaster authorities including the Army and the Police and rehearsed with the inhabitants. These also willingly evacuated since they knew that evacuation shelters had been prepared for them, and their livestock and belongings safely guarded.


Sadly, 3 persons were reported killed in the district of Malang, east of Mt.Kelud. One person died hit by the roof of a house which collapsed under the weight of volcanic materials, while two persons died having deeply inhaled volcanic ash. Authorities continue to warn that volcanic ash is dangerous since it contains silica, which are like minute, sharp glass particles that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but when inhaled damage the lungs or hurt the eyes. (ws)

Photo Courtesy ANTARA FOTO/M Risyal Hidayat