News24

Indonesia closes airport after eruption

2011-12-05 08:01

Jakarta - Indonesia closed a domestic airport in eastern Indonesia on Monday after a volcano spewed ash into the air, an official said.

Mount Gamalama, which forms the entire island of Ternate in North Maluku province, erupted late on Sunday and forced an airport in Ternate town at its foot to close, transport ministry spokesperson Bambang Ervan said.

"It's a safety measure. The volcanic ash may pose a risk to planes. If there is no more eruption, the airport may be opened tomorrow," he added.

The 1 715m volcano caused some panic when it erupted, Darno Lamane, said a scientist monitoring the peak.

"It shot ash and dust particles 2 000m into the sky. There were no reports of casualties or injuries, but people did panic for a while, screaming as they ran out of their homes," he said.

"The situation has calmed and many residents have gone back home. We will continue to monitor the volcanic activity," he added.

Lamane said that the volcano last erupted in 2003, when no fatalities were recorded.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The archipelago nation is home to 129 active volcanoes, including 21 on Java.