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(2/16/2014) Wuryastuti Sunario, who is the editor and adviser to the Indonesia.travel website, has provided Balidiscovery.com the following information and an update on the explosion of Mt. Kelud in East Java
At 22.50 West Indonesia Time on Thursday, February 13, 2104, Mt. Kelud, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, erupted violently spewing 10- kilometer of smoke and volcanic material into the atmosphere. Located in East Java, a densely populated province, Mt. Kelud is surrounded by the cities of Blitar, Kediri, Malang. Malang and Bata - panoramic hill resorts popular with domestic and international tourists alike.
Exploding during wind conditions known as the “westerly’s” the first areas covered by rains of ash and gravel were the towns of Blitar and Kediri. Within hours, the fallout had spread to Yogyakarta and Solo– more than 200 kilometers away from the mountain.
By 10 am Friday, February 14th, the airports of Surabaya and Malang in East Java, as well as airports in Yogyakarta and Solo were closed as runways became covered with over 3 centimeters of ash and gravel. The Borobudur temple, near Magelang, has been closed indefinitely to visitors with protective plastic covers placed over some of the monuments ancient statuary.
Because Mt. Kelud had been afflicted by earthquakes for weeks prior to Thursday’s major explosion, authorities had closed off a radius 5 kilometers from the crater, declaring it as a "danger zone" and had raised the warning status to Alert (stage III). With Thursday night’s eruption, the danger zone was extended to a 15-kilometer radius and Kelud’s status raised one level to “Awas” or stage II. Accordingly, the local population was removed to prepared evacuation centers located over 30-kilometers from the mountain.
The second day after the violent eruption, February 15th, Mt Kelud’s explosions had abated somewhat, although still showing high activity. Chief Volcanologist, Surono, said people were still prohibited from venturing into the danger zone of a 10-kilometer radiuss from the crater, given the possibility of dangerous pyroclastic clouds. “Let us learn from the recent tragic lesson at Mt. Sinabung in North Sumatra, where 17 people died within the danger zone (killed) by a searing hot cloud after Sinabung exploded, thinking it was already safe,” advised Surono
Meanwhile, Director General of Civil Aviation, Herry Bakti S. Gumay, told METROTV that his Ministry has issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen) closing Indonesian airspace to all air traffic flying below 2000 feet over East and West Java. International flights flying over 2,000 feet are considered safe from encountering any volcanic effluent.
By mid-day Friday, February 14, 2014, cities as far away as the southern part of West Java, including Cilacap and Pangandaran, were reporting fallout of sand pouring down on their areas.
Declaring a force majeure situation, airlines flying to Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya and Malang were cancelled on Friday, February 14th. By Saturday, February 15th, airports at Surabaya, Bandung and Cilcacap resumed at least limited flight operations.
By Saturday, February 15th, 4 of 7 airports on Java that were closed to air traffic following Mt. Kelud’s eruption resumed operations. These include: Surabaya, Bandung , Malang and Cilacap . Yogyakarta's airport is expected to reopen only on Tuesday, February 18. Solo's airport is expected to be operational on Monday, February 17th, with Semarang's reopening date still under consideration.
Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport have remained operational without any interruption.
More than 300 flights were canceled to and from cities affected by the eruption.
Mt. Kelud Explosion Background
Mt.Kelud's most recent explosion has spewed no less than 150 million cubic meters of volcanic materials into the atmosphere in the 24-hour period following its initial eruption. This roughly equals emission from Mt. Merapi, - the other active volcano in Central Java - that ejected 200 million cubic meters that it spewed during a month long period in 2010.
Authorities report that over 76,000 people had been evacuated from the 10-kilometer radius declared a “danger zone” and have received shelter, food and necessities at 172 evacuation centers towns across East Java.
The head of the Blitar district said that evacuation proceeded in a fast and relatively orderly way, since it had been well prepared through close coordination among relevant disaster agencies, including the Army and the Police.
Three fatalities have been reported killed in the district of Malang, east of Mt. Kelud. One person died when hit by the roof of a house that collapsed under the weight of volcanic materials, while two persons died after inhaling volcanic ash. Authorities continue to warn that volcanic ash is dangerous contains silica - minute, sharp glass particles invisible to the naked eye, but dangerous when inhaled or when it comes in contact with the naked eye.
President Yudhoyono convened a cabinet meeting on Friday, February 14, 2014 to coordinate all emergency relief.
As a precautionary measure Virgin Australia cancelled its flights in an out of Bali on Friday and Saturday, February 14-15, 2014.