SURABAYA, Indonesia – Volcanic ash from a major eruption in Indonesia shrouded a large swath of the country’s most densely populated island today and closed three international airports.
Local media reported two people were killed when parts of their homes collapsed after Mount Kelud’s explosive eruption overnight.
The initial blasts sent millions of cubic feet of dust and rocks into the atmosphere, according to the country’s disaster agency, and could be heard up to 125 miles away.
Ash up to an inch deep covered Surabaya, the country’s second-largest city, and even farther afield in Jogyakarta, where motorists switched on headlights in daylight. TV footage from towns closer to the peak showed cattle covered in ash.
Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said Jogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya airports were closed due to reduced visibility and the dangers posed to aircraft engines by ash.
The country’s disaster agency said tremors were still wracking the volcano, but scientists didn’t expect another major eruption. It said many of the 200,000 people living within 6 miles of Kelud who had evacuated returned to their homes to begin cleaning up.
The 5,680-feet Kelud in east Java, home to more than a half of Indonesia’s 240 million people, has been rumbling for several weeks and was under close observation.
Muhammad Hendrasto, head of the country’s volcano monitoring agency, said the mountain erupted violently about 90 minutes after authorities raised its alert status to the highest level.