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Volcanic Eruption in Indonesia Disrupts Air Travel, Spreads Ash to Malaysia

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Indonesia , May 9, 2024 The eruption of Mount Ruang, a remote volcano in Indonesia, has triggered the closure of over half a dozen airports and led to the dispersion of ash reaching as far as Malaysia, according to officials. As authorities grapple with the unfolding crisis, thousands of individuals are being evacuated amid concerns of potential tsunamis.

Mount Ruang unleashed a series of eruptions on Tuesday, propelling lava and ash over 5 kilometers (three miles) into the sky and prompting evacuation directives for approximately 12,000 residents. In response to the escalating situation, rescue operations involving a ship and a warship have been initiated to relocate residents from Tagulandang island to Siau island, prompted by fears of volcanic material cascading into the sea, potentially triggering tsunamis.

Rosalin Salindeho, a 95-year-old inhabitant of Tagulandang, recounted the terrifying ordeal of witnessing Ruang’s eruption upon arriving in Siau. She described the eruption as cataclysmic, with rocks raining down, causing significant damage to nearby houses.

The Indonesian meteorological agency, BMKG, revealed a map illustrating the dispersion of volcanic ash, indicating its presence in eastern Malaysia on Borneo island, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. The widespread ashfall prompted the closure of seven airports, including major hubs in Manado and Gorontalo, as reported by AirNav Indonesia, the state-run air traffic control provider.

The eruption of Mount Anak Krakatoa in 2018, situated between Java and Sumatra islands, serves as a stark reminder of the potential devastation posed by volcanic activity. The partial collapse of its crater during a significant eruption triggered a tsunami, resulting in the loss of over 400 lives and causing extensive injuries.