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Thousands flee from Java volcano

Jakarta, Feb. 14 (Reuters): More than 76,000 people fled their homes and flights were grounded across most of Indonesia’s densely populated island of Java today after a volcanic eruption sent a huge plume of ash and sand 17km into the air.

The ash cloud from last night’s eruption of Mount Kelud in the province of East Java moved west over the island, forcing the closure of seven airports and stranding thousands of passengers. The only major airports still operating on Java were two in the capital, Jakarta.

“Based on verified data, over 76,000 people have been evacuated from five cities around the volcano ... and about 200,000 people were affected,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said in a text message.

Mount Kelud is 90km south of Indonesia’s second biggest city Surabaya, a major industrial centre. Its airport was closed, along with those of Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Malang, Semarang and the major oil refinery town of Cilacap. They were expected to reopen on Saturday morning.

 
 
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