Eruption at Indonesia volcano forces airport closure

Jakarta (UNA-OIC) - Mount Merapi volcano on Indonesia's Java island erupted on Friday and spewed ash more than 5 kilometres into the air, forcing the closure of a nearby airport.

The National Disaster Management Agency warned people to stay out of a 2-kilometre exclusion zone around Merapi, one of the country's most active volcanoes.

The alert level for the volcano remained normal, it said, adding that residents should stay calm. "The eruption was phreatic in nature," the agency said, meaning that it did not eject lava.

Hundreds of people fled their villages to safer locations after the eruption, according to the local civil protection agency.

AirNav Indonesia, the state-run aviation navigation company, said Adisutjipto International Airport in the central Java city of Yogyakarta was closed for civilian flights until 4:30 pm (0930 GMT).

A series of eruptions at Merapi killed more than 300 people in 2010.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area around the edges of the Pacific Ocean susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The country is home to 130 active volcanoes.

Source: International Islamic News Agency