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Vast ash cloud prompts Indonesian island residents to flee after active volcano erupts

Vast ash cloud prompts Indonesian island residents to flee after active volcano erupts for second time in months and prompts fears air travel could be disrupted

  • Mt Semeru erupted  on an Indonesian island and evacuations are happening
  • Witnesses say volcanic ash is blocking out the sun in two different districts 
  • A monitoring body issued a warning about an ash cloud rising up to 50,000 ft


An active volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island of Java for the second time in months. 

A rain of volcanic ash from Mt Semeru is blotting out the sun in two regions, according to witnesses and a monitoring body issued a warning of an ash cloud rising up to 50,000 ft to airlines. 

There are no reported casualties yet as evacuations are underway, officials have said.

Villagers in a temporary shelter. An active volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island of Java for the second time in months

Ash falling off a railing. There are no reported casualties yet as evacuations are underway, officials have said

Ash falling off a railing. There are no reported casualties yet as evacuations are underway, officials have said

The eruption took place at about 2.30pm local time. Local authorities have set up a restricted zone of three miles from the crater after the eruption.

Thoriqul Haq, a local official, told Reuters that the eruption has been a ‘very pressing, rapid condition’.

A road and bridge from the area to the nearby city of Malang had been severed in the aftermath as residents are trying to flee. 

Campbell Biggs, a meteorologist at The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), told the BBC that the ash cloud was higher than the cruising altitude for most aircraft and may cause diversions. 

He added it should slowly vanish.  

Most planes are likely to try avoid getting caught up in its path as ash that solidifies on the cooler parts of the engine can stall or fail engines if airflow is disrupted.

Pilots’ visibility and the air quality in cabins is also affected.  

The centre said the ash was drifting south-west over the Indian ocean after appearing to have detached from the volcano’s summit.

Mt Semeru, one of Indonesia’s 130 active volcanoes, regularly spewed up ash up to some 14,100 ft, meaning that today’s eruption is unusual in severity, Mr Biggs also said.

The volcano sits 12,000ft above sea level.

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