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Airport, temples reopen but Mt. Kelud high alert remains

Publication Date : 20-02-2014

 

Although the government has not decreased the alert status of Mount Kelud in East Java, many public facilities have resumed operations, including Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, which reopened on Wednesday after being closed for five days due to thick layers of ash from the volcano’s eruption.

Small amounts of volcanic ash could still be seen on both sides of the runway on Wednesday evening, when a passenger aircraft belonging to the national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, took off for Jakarta.

“The last aircraft to take off from here today is the GA 218 flight at 8:55pm serving the Yogyakarta–Jakarta route,” airport information officer Maksum A. said.

According to Maksum, a total of 56 flights took off from the airport over the course of Wednesday and 37 others landed there the same day.

The eruption forced the closure of seven airports across Java. Only Adi Soemarmo International Airport in Surakarta, Central Java, is still closed. It will reopen on Thursday.

Also on Wednesday, the Buddhist Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, as well as the Hindu Prambanan Temple and Ratu Boko Temple in Yogyakarta were reopened to the public.

A discount of 30 per cent is currently being applied to entrance tickets at the three temples, as cleaning processes are still ongoing. Entrance tickets for Borobudur and Prambanan Temples are 30,000 rupiah (US$2.50) per domestic tourist and 200,000 rupiah per foreign tourist, while for Ratu Boko the cost is 25,000 rupiah.

In a related development, the Yogyakarta branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) reported that volcanic ash from last Thursday night’s eruption of had caused thousands of tourists to cancel their visits to Yogyakarta.

“The financial losses that hotels in Yogyakarta are suffering from the situation could exceed 2 billion rupiah per day,” the association’s secretary Deddy Pranowo said on Wednesday.

He said that the figure was calculated based both on cancellations of tourists’ visits and physical damage caused by the thick layers of volcanic ash.

Although many public facilities have reopened and people have resumed their daily activities, everyone - especially evacuees - is reminded to remain cautious about the potential dangers of the mountain, especially the threat of lahar, or “cold lava” flow.

“We have not decreased the alert status of Mt. Kelud,” Khoirul Huda, head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center’s (PVMBG) Mt. Kelud monitoring post at Margomulyo hamlet, Kediri, East Java, said on Wednesday.

Choirul said lahar could take the form of up to 105 million cubic meters of volcanic materials, carried by water, flowing down from the mountain.

Therefore, he called on evacuees from the areas of Kediri, Malang and Blitar to remain in shelters until further notice. Many evacuees, however, have reportedly returned home.

Indra Harsaputra contributed to the article from Surabaya.

 

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