Indonesia Volcano Eruption: Mount Kelud Spews Ash And Debris, Killing 3 And Forcing Evacuation of 75000

on February 14, 2014 2:07 PM EST

volcano indonesia
Mount Kelud erupted on Friday, killing three and displacing 75,000 people. (Photo: Reuters)

Three people are dead and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes following the eruption of Mount Kelud, a volcano located on the island of Java in Indonesia. The volcano has been spewing ash and smoke for days, prompting the evacuation of about 75,000 people living within a roughly six-mile radius of the volcano. Fearing more eruptions, the government is warning residents to stay outside the radius.    

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"The eruption sounded like thousands of bombs exploding," said Ratno Pramono, a 35-year-old farmer who lives about three miles from the crater, in the village of Sugihwaras. "I thought doomsday was upon us. Women and children were screaming and crying."

Ash and gravel from Mount Kelud coated roads and walkways in surrounding villages, making travel dangerous. Ash darkened the air, causing motorists to turn on their headlights during the day. The eruption was so powerful that some gravel landed roughly 125 miles away, officials said

According to Muhammad Hendrasto, head of Indonesia's volcano monitoring agency, Mount Kelud erupted 90 minutes after officials raised the volcano alert to its highest level. Debris from the eruption caused a roof to collapse in the village of Pandansari, killing a man and woman in their sixties. A 70-year-old man in the same village was killed by a falling wall as he preparing to evacuate.   

Most of Java's airports remain closed, including those in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Malang, Semarang and Cilacap. The airport in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, located about 54 miles north of Mount Kelud, is closed. The only two open airports on Java are in the capital, Jakarta.    

The 5,679-foot-high Mount Kelud is one of 130 active volcanos on Indonesia. The nation sits within the Ring of Fire, a series of fault lines that make Indonesia particularly vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Because of limited space on Indonesia's islands, and because of the fertile soil around volcanoes, Indonesians are more or less forced to live within proximity of active volcanoes.  

The last majour eruption of Mount Kelud occurred in 1990, when more than 30 people were killed. The deadliest eruption happened in 1919, with over 5,000 people killed. The deaths came mostly from a post-eruption hot mudflow, a concrete-like slurry of volcanic debris, rocks and water that moves like a but becomes solid at rest.     

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