) - Thousands of people have fled their homes following the eruption of the
volcano Kelud , in the province of East Java. Within
hours columns of ash and smoke billowed from the summit, creating considerable
problems for traffic and visibility. There
was serious transport problems in Klaten, Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Central
Java, where visibility was reduced to about three or four meters. Motorists
and bikers had to "abandon" vehicles on the side of the road, because
they are unable to continue. Debris
was scattered hundreds of miles from the crater, and so far there have been
official victims, who died as a result of the collapse of their home under an accumulation
Andre Priyono, a resident of Klaten regency, Central Java, told AsiaNews that "I had to stop my bike on my way to work, in Yogyakarta", in a Gondang sugar factory. "I couldn't see anything - he says - through a thick haze caused by the volcanic ash, the visibility was reduced to just three meters". He also confirmed "dozens of road accidents "because of "reduced visibility" .
Niniek, form Yogyakarta , adds that "the schools are closed today" and people are invited to stay in their homes, while wearing masks to minimize the danger of ingesting dust and ashes. Even in Surakarta, Central Java, the schools and offices are closed, the streets empty.
The eruption has caused serious problems, even for major airports in the area. The international airports of Yogyakarta and Solo, in central Java and Surabaya in East Java are closed. Many flights have been canceled due to the reduced visibility and the accumulation of volcanic material on the runway and aircraft.
Environmentalists and civil protection experts had recently issued a warning for possible new eruptions following the eruption of the volcano Sinabung (North Sumatra). Moreover, the Indonesian archipelago is made up of thousands of islands and atolls surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, in an area known by scientists as the "Ring of Fire". It is characterized by intense seismic and volcanic activity caused by the collision of several continental plates.
Memories of the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the region in December 2004 are still alive in peoples minds, with an epicenter off the coast of Aceh, causing hundreds of thousands of victims throughout Asia. On 30 October 2009, another strong earthquake affected the area of Padang resulting in about 700 deaths. Over 180 houses were razed to the ground. Currently, experts have ranked 19 other volcanoes scattered throughout the country at "level two alert", or subject to close monitoring.