Mount Kelud Ash Expected to Fall on Jakarta

An Indonesian police officer distributes masks at a road covered with ash from the Mount Kelud volcano. (EPA Photo)

An Indonesian police officer distributes masks at a road covered with ash from the Mount Kelud volcano. (EPA Photo)

Jakarta. Volcanology experts remained concerned on Friday that ash from the eruption of Mount Kelud, in Central Java, would reach the Indonesian capital as westerly winds dusted the city of Bandung, West Java.

“It can reach [Jakarta] if it’s already reaching Bandung,” Gede Suantika, of the Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG), told the Indonesian news portal Detik.com on Friday. “It depends on the wind. At the moment, the wind is blowing to the west, that’s why it reached Bandung.”

Residents in Bandung, a city some 619 kilometers from Mount Kelud, said ash began to fall on the city after Friday morning prayers — dusting the city in a thin coating of ash, according to reports by the state-run Antara News Agency.

“Tiny white ash can be seen on the leaves and walls,” Dwi Setya, a local resident, told Antara.

In the nearby town of Sumedang, West Java, some residents began to wear masks as the ash coated the town.

“I had sore eyes,” local resident Mohamad Noor Rizal told the Jakarta Globe. “Two hours later when I returned to rectorate office [of Padjajaran University], the vehicles and floors were covered with dust.

“Some people started wearing mask, but not all. The sky looked gloomy and it’s sweltering.”

The volcano erupted late Thursday night, driving some 200,000 people from their homes as the central government ordered an evacuation on Friday of 36 villages in a 10-kilometer area around Mount Kelud, in Kediri district, East Java, according to reports by Agence France-Presse.

Locals began to flee the area on Thursday as the volcano shuddered to life, causing an earthquake felt as far away as Solo, Central Java. Volcanic activity at Mount Kelud had escalated since Feb. 2, prompting warnings from the government’s disaster agencies.

When Mount Kelud blew its top on Thursday night, the explosive eruption was heard as far away as Yogyakarta. The eruption spewed some 120 cubic meters of debris 17 kilometers high, blanketing the surround area with a thick coating of gray ash.

If strong westerly winds continue, a thin coating of ash will fall on the Indonesian capital — some 148 kilometers from Bandung. The impact, Gede said, should be minimal.

“If the wind continues traveling to Jakarta, the ask can also reach Jakarta,” Gede said. “But it will be thin, just like in Bandung.”

An official with Bandung’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG Bandung) said the ash was expected to fall on a wide swath of Java by the time Mount Kelud quiets down.

“The material is not big, but it is still affecting some regions southwest of Mount Kelud, like Ciamis, Garut, Tasik and Bandung,” BMKG Bandung official Yadi Hendarmin told the Indonesian news portal Rakyat Merdeka Online. “It won’t take long for the ash of Mount Kelud to reach Jakarta.” The Jakarta Globe

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