A POWERFUL volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s most populous island blasted ash and debris 12 miles into the air yesterday, killing three people, forcing more than 100,000 from their homes and closing seven airports.
The eruption of Mount Kelud on Java island could be heard up to 125 miles away. “It sounded like thousands of bombs exploding,” farmer Ratno Pramono said as he checked his property, three miles from the crater. “I thought doomsday was upon us. Women and children were screaming and crying.”
Ash and grit fell to earth in towns and cities across the region, and was up to 8in thick in places. Motorists had to switch on their headlights in daylight, and workers attempted to cover the famed ninth-century Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur with plastic sheeting to protect it.
A 60-year-old woman and an man aged 80 were killed in the village of Pandansari, about four miles from the mountain, when the roofs of their homes collapsed under the weight of the ash and volcanic debris. A 70-year-old man died after being hit by a collapsed wall while waiting to be evacuated from the same village.
The large international airport in Surabaya and airports in the cities of Malang, Yogyakarta, Solo, Bandung, Semarang and Cilacap were closed due to reduced visibility and the dangers posed to aircraft engines by ash.
The 5,680ft mountain in eastern Java – home to more than half of Indonesia’s 240 million people – had been rumbling for several weeks and was under close observation. The mountain is about 375 miles east of Jakarta, the capital.
As night fell, the volcano continued to rumble, spewing ash high into the air, though smaller amounts than earlier.
“It seems Kelud isn’t finished yet,” mother-of-three Retno Dwiningtyas said.